Theses Doctoral

How Teachers Make Historical Explanation Meaningful for Democratic Citizenship

Eckers, Jennifer Mitnick

Enduring misconceptions exist regarding the value of learning history. Many history teachers are engaged in lecture- and recitation-based forms of instruction that seem to be at odds with the goal of helping students to develop skills and dispositions important for democratic citizenship. This study asked whether history teachers’ most ubiquitous core teaching practice, the explanation of historical content, had the potential to support civic ends. The study analyzed transcriptions of 43 classroom observations and interviews of ten U.S. history teachers. Findings pointed to five forms of historical explanation that have the potential to make explanation meaningful for preparing students for democratic citizenship. Findings also revealed factors that influenced teachers to make decisions to explain historical content in particular ways. The study has implications for improving teacher education and professional development with the goal of helping history teachers to make explanation meaningful and contributory toward their students’ preparation for democratic citizenship.


  • thumnail for Eckers_columbia_0054D_14749.pdf Eckers_columbia_0054D_14749.pdf application/pdf 1.87 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Schmidt, Sandra
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 23, 2018