Informing, transforming, inquiring: Approaches to elementary social studies in methods course syllabi

Stephanie Schroeder, Natasha C. Murray-Everett, Jacob Gates, Sarah B. Shear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study investigated approaches to the elementary social studies methods syllabus from instructors of courses across the United States. Using qualitative content analysis, we explored 48 methods syllabi using a deductive framework of Information Based Systems of education, Transformation Based Systems of Education, and Inquiry Based Systems of education. Ultimately, we determined that over half (n = 27) of the collected syllabi reflected an Information Based System of education meant to prepare students for certification, lesson and unit planning, and best practice social studies instruction. Fewer (n = 14) prepared pre-service teachers to challenge official knowledge and position social studies instruction within socio-political realities of students and fewer still prepared pre-service teachers to center inquiry-based instruction guided by the C3 Framework (n = 11). We position these findings within dominant trends in elementary social studies scholarship and conclude that too few methods courses reflect the scholarly trend toward transformative, justice-oriented, or inquiry-based elementary social studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-117
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Studies Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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