Abstract 9, Volume 8, Number 3, Winter 2013

“People with Real Experiences:” Using Mobile Devices in High School Social Studies

Adam M. Friedman

Wake Forest University

Emily R. Garcia

Highlands Ranch High School


Mobile devices are increasingly prevalent and may have large ramifications for social studies education, but there has been limited research as to their effectiveness.  This study utilized an Apple iPad to explore how a specific application (Explore 9/11) impacted secondary student interactions with primary source narratives and their influence on historical empathy during a War on Terrorism unit in a United States history course.  Three sections utilized the iPad, while two used resources found on the iPad, but not the iPad itself.  The study found that students using mobile devices had positive experiences in interacting with primary source documents.  Students, further, were able to develop a sense of historical empathy as they came across the firsthand accounts of seven individuals’ experiences on September 11, 2001 regardless of whether or not they used the iPads.  These findings, as well as their implications for social studies education are discussed.

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