Scholarly article on topic 'Problems Related to the Teaching of Social Studies and Suggestions for Solution: Teachers’ Opinions Based on a Qualitative Research'

Problems Related to the Teaching of Social Studies and Suggestions for Solution: Teachers’ Opinions Based on a Qualitative Research Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Murat Keçe

Abstract The purpose of this study is to determine opinions and suggestions of teacher about the problems encountered in teaching social studies in secondary schools. In this study, interview technique was used as qualitative research method was utilized as a means of data collection. For this purpose, interviews were held with 12 teachers in the study group. According to the results obtained from the study was identified that participants have encountered similar problems related to teaching of social studies. It was observed which the most frequently expressed problem situations by teachers as follows textbooks, lack of physical conditions, teaching of knowledge-skill-values and teaching of Kemalism. Some of the solution suggestions offered by the participants: presence of social studies classrooms in schools, emphasis on teaching of notion-value-skill, increasing the weekly course hours.

Academic research paper on topic "Problems Related to the Teaching of Social Studies and Suggestions for Solution: Teachers’ Opinions Based on a Qualitative Research"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 122 (2014) 388 - 392

2nd World Conference on Design, Arts and Education DAE-2013

PROBLEMS RELATED TO THE TEACHiNG OF SOCiAL STUDiES AND SUGGESTiONS FOR SOLUTION: TEACHERS' OPINIONS BASED ON A QUALITATIVE

RESEARCH

Murat KE£E

Gazi Universitesi, Gazi Egitim Fakultesi, Ilkogretim Bolumu, Sosyal Bilgiler Egitimi Anabilim Dali, Teknikokullar /ANKARA

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine opinions and suggestions of teacher about the problems encountered in teaching social studies in secondary schools. In this study, interview technique was used as qualitative research method was utilized as a means of data collection. For this purpose, interviews were held with 12 teachers in the study group. According to the results obtained from the study was identified that participants have encountered similar problems related to teaching of social studies. It was observed which the most frequently expressed problem situations by teachers as follows textbooks, lack of physical conditions, teaching of knowledge-skill-values and teaching of Kemalism. Some of the solution suggestions offered by the participants: presence of social studies classrooms in schools, emphasis on teaching of notion-value-skill, increasing the weekly course hours.

Key words: teaching of social studies, views of teachers, problems of social studies

©2013TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.

Selection and peer-reviewunderresponsibilityofAcademicWorld Educationand ResearchCenter.

1. Introduction

2005 social studies program, prepared with constructivist philosophy aiming Social integration and adoption of value judgement of individual and to bring up good citizens, foresees activity based education process reflecting the data of social science disciplines with interdisciplinary mentality (Safran, 2011; Ozturk, 2011). According to Mathisoni, Ross and Vinson (2006: 103-105) all the disciplines of social sciences should take place in social studies program and the acquisitions of social studies configured with interdisciplinary mentality should provide different perspectives to the students. In the new social studies program, started to be applied in 2005, the mentality of 1998, which included separate education of history and geography, was abandoned, 8 learning fields were determined and each of these fields was organized to contain a dominant social studies discipline (Ata, 2005).

Corresponding Author: Murat Keçe E-mail: muratkece@gazi.edu.tr

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1359

In the social studies program, consisting of information, skill and value dimension, it is possible to see also the reflections of the modern paradigm. Because in the developing World, not only knowledgeable people but also individuals with the basic skills (Critical and creative thinking, decision making) to solve the problems (Ata, 2006: 76), who adopts the value system that is approved by the society, are needed(Doganay, 2011: 229-230). In this respect, besides the acquisitions of social studies, the information, skill and value dimensions of the program of 2005 and its broadened scope are thought to contribute to the multilateral development of the student. Moreover, social studies basically aims to bring up good citizens. With regards to this, "citizenship depression" of multiculturally structured America became a social problem in early 1900s. Social studies, which started to be taught to solve this problem, brought about unignorable success in bringing up "American citizens." It can, however, be claimed that in our country social studies has not yet reached to desired level. With regards to the duty of citizenship or the intended behaviours and values to be taught, it is obvious that there are several deficiencies (Safran, 2011: 14). Therefore, it is wondered what kind of problems are confronted by and what are the views and suggestions of the teachers of social studies, who are experiencing the problems in person. Under the light of these explanations, the aim of this study is identified as follows:

The Aim of the Study: Determination of the problems confronted by the social studies teachers in teaching social

studies and the presentation of solutions related to these problems.

Method

Research Design

Aiming the determination of the problems confronted in teaching social sciences and the suggestions for their solution, this study is a qualitative research made in descriptive survey model. In the process of collecting and interpreting data, phenomenological method among qualitative research methods is used in this study. Phenomenological design focuses on the facts that we recognise in everyday life but do not deep and detailed understanding of them. Phenomenology is a qualitative research design and it tries to describe the phenomenon, that is confronted in everyday life but not known in details, with the experiences, thoughts and decisions of people experiencing them (Patton, 2002: 105; §im§ek, 2006: 72).

Study Group

In the determination of the teachers attending to the study, "standard sampling" and "snowball sampling" approaches from the purposeful sampling methods were preferred. The fundamental understanding in standard sampling is to study all cases matching with a standard that is either determined by the researcher or prepared previously. (Yildirim ve §im§ek, 2006: 112). For this study, the standard for the attendants is to be a master student or to graduate from a master program. On the other hand, snowball approach is an influential method in determining rich information sources - individuals and circumstances - related with the solution of problem. (Patton, 2002; Yildirim ve §im§ek, 2006). Demographic data about the 12 attendant teachers is as follows:

• 7 of the attendants are male while 5 of them are female.

• 2 of the teachers are the graduates of a master program and five of them are still graduate students.

• In terms of the length of the attendants' services, 7 of them have been serving for 4-7 years and 5 of them

for 1-3 year/s.

• All of these teachers have graduated from 4 years license program of a social studies department.

Data Gathering Tool

In this study semi-structured meeting technique was used to gather data. For this purpose, a meeting form consisting of 7 questions was developed by the researcher to be applied to the teachers. The meeting form took its final form after the views of the specialists of the field and the specialists of assessment and evaluation are consulted.

The Process of Gathering Data and the Analysis of Data

The meetings with the teachers made in the working room of the researcher lasted 40-45 minutes on average. Content analysis method was used in analysing the data. In this process, the act of coding was performed primarily "according to the concepts deduced from the data." This kind of coding is rather valid for the research made about the topics that do not have a certain theoretical basis (Yildirim ve §im§ek, 2006; Gokfe, 2006). The gathered data is compounded under themes and "direct quotations" are also used.

Findings and Interpretations

From the outcomes of this research, it is determined that the teachers confront the following poblems:

Lack of Interdisciplinary approach in the acquisitions:

It is determined that the teachers generally think that the whole of social studies disciplines are reflected to the acquisitions in social studies program. Together with that the teachers argue that in the social studies program prepared with the interdisciplinary mentality acquisitions in more disciplines should be given more place. The teacher, coded E5, expresses his/her thoughts as follows: "The new program reflects the interdisciplinary mentality, yet it should be increased. Because the acquisitions with interdisciplinary mentality supply different perspectives to the students and contribute to the development of the student. " In addition to that, it is understood that the teachers recognise the existence of one dominant discipline in the learning fields of the program and 6 of the attendants is disturbed about this case. The teacher E 4 explains his/her thoughts with these words: "In the previous program there was history and geography. Now there is history, geography, economy, psychology, etc. " The attendants with this mentality should be aware of that in one unit all of the acquisitions related to social studies cannot be given. Because it should not be overlooked that also in the social studies education program of USA, where social studies first appeared and many scientific research is made on developing social studies education and program, in each learning field one social study discipline is fore grounded and dominant-discipline mentality is used.

Course books

It has been determined that general opinion of the teachers participating in the study is that the content within the social studies' books serves for functions. Participants have claimed that the course books prepared by private publishing firms are more detailed whereas the books prepared by Ministrof National Education are more suitable for the structure of new program. Seven teachers supporting this opinion think that publishing firms' concern is because of the questions students encounter in central exams. One from seven participants supporting similar ideas, participant (K2), explains his/her ideas with following sentences: "For instance course books from private publishers give the content in a more detailed way and suitable for education system based on rote-learning. We can see that the habits of old system keep going. For example the reforms of 18th century are taught one under the other just like a history book. So, if questioned about the reason for this, central exams are in charge". E1: "Unfortunately, just for being asked in the exam there are books prepared by private publishing firms too, focused on questions in the exam rather than functions." Also 9 of participants need extra different sources besides course books on the grounds of central exams.

Kemalism Themes

According to the participants it has been tried to include Kemalism themes in social studies' functions. But it has been detected that 9 of participants think Kemalism themes included in functions as a problem. Those supporting this idea claim that they try to get Kemalism themes into units with difficulty, and also they try to associate Kemalism themes with the content in the unit in a way possibly. In order to represent views of participants who have similar ideas, views of E3 coded teacher are included as follows: "In the 1st unit of 6th grade, scientific research, steps of scientific research etc are ranked and it was mentioned about Ataturk 's contributions to science at the bottom. In 7th grade, after teaching communication and human relations it is included the newspapers and magazines Ataturk published during The Independence War. I think it is unnecessary. Because your aim is to give communication and human relations, teach steps of scientific research." Moreover, it has been detected 4 of participants claim Kemalism themes are included in social studies programs more than needed and they support the idea of this situation contrasting with the logic of social studies.

Teaching concept, value and skills

As it is well known social studies program is based on information, skills and value perceptions. In this sense, it is important that the concept, skills and values, which are headstones of social sciences' program, should be understood and acquired. When teachers' views are analyzed, it is understood that all of the participants think concepts, values and skills included in social studies programs are not able to be acquired by the students. In this sense, teachers claim and criticize they hadn't been provided with a guiding activity or method on teaching concept-skills-value, hadn't been given an education on teaching concept-skills-value and being given more importance on functions of social studies so causing elements mentioned to remain in the background. In addition teachers' general opinion is that teaching skills is problematic relatively to teaching concept and value; and teaching value is problematic relatively to teaching concept. The views of participants concerning the matter in hand are like that: K2:

"When preparing a course book the perception of concept has been ignored, students are supposed for example, to know or have information about a concept related to history, geography and economics."

E6: "And also because the program is aimed at functions we can't care about concepts. In addition education inspectors check whether function is written in the notebook or not while checking he notebook. Moreover there are no questions about the concepts in the exams. So our main concern is functions."

K4: "Skills are one of the pier foundations of the program but because of parrot fashion, teachers' frame of mind going on the way it used to be, exam system's keeping the way it used to be we can't get the students acquire the skills, we can't give an education based on skills. Because the exam is for cognitive domain."

E7: "By standing opposite the students and trying to teach values is a controversial subject. Value teaching were given by preaching before and it is just like that now. You can't get the students acquire the value of honesty by explaining it."

Weekly Course Hours and Lack of Physical Conditions

Participants agree that in order process of education to be effective and productive they should be allocated enough time and necessary physical conditions, and because they lack elements in question having problems afterwards is indispensable. Seen as a problem for other branches excess of students in classroom is assessed within lack of physical conditions. And also not having a laboratory or classroom belonging social sciences at schools generally is seen as not giving enough importance to the social sciences. It stands out that participants express similar opinions with different words as to be example giving two of these views is thought to give a perspective to the reader. "There is no suitable place for teaching social sciences. As we said before there should be laboratories for social sciences. Physical devices, teaching equipments for instance projectors can get students to acquire some social sciences functions via films." (K3)

E4: "Classrooms having so many students causes lessons to be taught inconveniently, too. At some schools teaching is still carried out with 50 students." Results and suggestions

In the light of findings, it has been detected that social sciences' teachers allege problems resulting from lack of physical conditions and weekly course hours, Kemalism themes' being reflected to functions unnecessarily, course books, lack of functions that are prepared according to the cross curricular approach and perceptions of concept-value and skills being ignored. Having been reached to similar studies like the one done by Yilmaz and Tepeba§ (2011), arises the idea that most of teachers have similar problems. In the study done by Dube (2009), it is detected that teachers have difficulty in teaching subjects like armament of countries, terrorism, women rights, racism. In Atba§i's study (2007) it has been stated by teachers that the classrooms are too crowded, the content is too detailed, confronting both substantial and bureaucratic barriers while using the method of investigating and observation. And also it is understood that similar outcomes has been reached in the study made by Akgül (2006). However in the study done by Acar (2003), it has been detected while the content is being formed, ignoring the students' levels is seen as a problem by the teachers. When considering findings that are reached from this and former researches those can be suggested as following below:

• Weekly course hours allocated to social studies lessons should be increased from 3 hours to 4 hours.

• There should be laboratories/classrooms special for social studies in secondary schools.

• Social studies license programs should be revised and there should be lessons on teaching concepts, values and abilities

• Studies should be done to make course books published by private publishers relevant with the aims of social studies

• Allowance should be separated for the study trips within the scope of social studies.

• The objectives which was prepared inter disciplinary approach should be given more space in social studies curriculum.

• Kemalism subjects attempted to relate the objectives of social atudies should be given only in the content of the relevant subject thereby don't deterioration of the content of the subject and associated with unnecessary should be avoided.

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