Abstract 7- Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2008

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2008



The Teaching of History-Social Science: Left Behind or Behind Closed Doors?

Lisa A. Hutton
California State University, Dominguez Hills

Joyce H. Burstein
California State University, Northridge


This descriptive study reports results from surveys and interviews to extend a 2004 study of K-5 elementary teachers. Results show the continued trend of teachers spending a minimal amount of time teaching history-social science compared to reading/language arts and mathematics. Teachers are pressured to focus on reading/language arts and increase test scores on standardized tests and history-social science is being marginalized in the elementary curriculum. In the 2006 data collection, teachers reported their commitment to teaching history-social science and related their struggles in teaching it. Many of the surveyed teachers are finding creative ways to carve out time in the school day to focus on history-social science. The article concludes with an appeal to social studies educators and professional organizations to reaffirm the importance of history-social science in the elementary curriculum with a clear articulation and dissemination of the goals and benefits of history-social science education.

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About the Author(s)…

Lisa A. Hutton is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Teacher Education at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, California, and is the Site Director for the California History-Social Science Project, Long Beach/Dominguez Hills. The California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) is a K-16 collaborative dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in history and social science education. Contact information is College of Education, California State University – Dominguez Hills, 1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson, CA 90747. Phone: 310.243.2748, Email Lhutton@csudh.edu.

Joyce H. Burstein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Elementary Education at California State University, Northridge in Northridge, California. Her teaching and research is in social studies, arts, and multicultural education. Contact information is Department of Elementary Education, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA 91330, Phone: (818) 677-6850, Email joyce.Burstein@csun.edu.