Scholarly article on topic 'Phenomenological Study of Social Studies Teachers and Values Education in Turkey'

Phenomenological Study of Social Studies Teachers and Values Education in Turkey Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

Share paper
OECD Field of science
{"Social studies teachers" / "values education" / "social studies lesson" / "Turkish teacher" / "competency in values education and the problems confronted"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Yusuf Keskin, Sevgi Coşkun Keskin, Hatice Söylemez

Abstract This study aims to show how social studies teachers convey values to students, how competent they regard themselves in this subject and what kinds of problems they confront when teaching values education. A phenomenological design, which is a qualitative research design, was used. Nineteen social studies teachers were interviewed. The results show that social studies teachers do not consider themselves to be sufficiently competent in values education and they face certain problems related to the curriculum, social environment and family while transmitting values to students.

Academic research paper on topic "Phenomenological Study of Social Studies Teachers and Values Education in Turkey"

Available online at

ScienceDirect PfOCSCl ¡0

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 116 (2014) 4526 - 4531 —

5th World Conference on Educational Sciences - WCES 2013

Phenomenological study of social studies teachers and values

education in Turkey

Yusuf Keskin * Sevgi Co^kun Keskin, Hatice Soylemez

Sakarya University, Hendek/Sakarya, 54300, Turkey


This study aims to show how social studies teachers convey values to students, how competent they regard themselves in this subject and what kinds of problems they confront when teaching values education. A phenomenological design, which is a qualitative research design, was used. Nineteen social studies teachers were interviewed. The results show that social studies teachers do not consider themselves to be sufficiently competent in values education and they face certain problems related to the curriculum, social environment and family while transmitting values to students.

© 2013The Authors.Publishedby ElsevierLtd.

Selection and/orpeer-review under responsibilityof AcademicWorld Education and Research Center.

Keywords: Social studies teachers, values education, social studies lesson, Turkish teacher, competency in values education and the problems confronted.

1. Introduction

Values education is a leading educational topic that is attracting increasing attention worldwide. In recent years, many countries have started to deal with and attach more importance to this subject. Just as there are undoubtedly many different reasons behind this phenomenon, there are also various definitions of values education (Pring, 2010). Put simply, values education is an attempt to teach values to students. 'Values education', which is a brand new subject in Turkey as well, is being discussed at international conferences and meetings, and articles and books are being written about this subject (Keskin, 2008).

The questions of 'when and how students should be instructed in values education' underlies the current discussions. Many researchers state that children receive their first values from their families, and thus, family plays a crucial role at this point (Aydin, 2005; Balat and Dagal, 2006; Vrasmas, 2001). Although the role and importance of family in values education is undeniable, the relationships and interactions within a family are changing today Family has started to lose its authority and all-embracing status. (Onür, 2007). Thus, after the family, another institution has come to play a role in values education, and this institution is the school. School is a place where the values instilled by the family are consolidated, and other new values are also instilled in students (Keskin, 2008). Social studies and history, geography and civics lessons are included within the scope of a 'civics curriculum', and these subjects occupy an important place in primary school curricula (Oztürk, 2007). Many countries, particularly the United States, England and Australia, deem values education to have a significant place in social studies, and

* Corresponding Author: YusufKeskin. Tel.: +0-505-3896253 E-mail

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

Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.979

research has been conducted on this topic. Approaches to the values dimension of social studies may vary; however, it is a must to include values education in social studies lessons. Here the main point is not whether social studies include values education but rather how effectively and reliably values are dealt with (Naylor and Diem, 1987).

Examination of the latest social studies curriculum issued in 2004 in Turkey shows that it is the first and only curriculum to directly include the notion of values education and explain in detail the approaches used to convey values to children. The curriculum focuses on twenty values. Moreover, the unit plans, which are developed according to the grade level, include the values to be conveyed with regards to relevant learning domains. Studies have shown that while the new social studies curriculum seems to be functional in values education, some problems have emerged with its implementation. The most important of these problems concerns the competency level of teachers who are practitioners in values education.

2. Method

In this study, a phenomenological design, which is a qualitative research design, was employed. Nineteen social studies teachers were interviewed. They responded to ten questions, and the interview became much more profound thanks to intellectual and inquiry-based questions. The interviews were tape recorded and then transcribed. Content analysis for each question enabled the researchers to draw conclusions.

3. Findings

3.1. Competency level of social studies teachers in the subject of values education

Most teachers interviewed (13 teachers) stated that they had not previously received training in values education. The remaining 6 teachers noted that they had listened to colleagues' presentations on values education during seminars at their schools.

In the context of whether the teachers regarded themselves as competent to engage in values education, nearly half of them (9 teachers) said that they found themselves incompetent. They put forward several reasons for incompetency, for example, 'I do not know how to offer that type of education because I am a fresh graduate and have no experience; I did not receive instruction in this method'. The rest of the teachers (10 teachers) said that they viewed themselves as competent. They gave explanations such as 'even if I did not receive instruction in this method, we all face the issue of values at any point of our life'; 'I am competent, but other factors (family, TV) have more influence'. The length of service of the teachers who found themselves to be competent in this area is greater than 10 years. Thus, while the teachers who were new in the profession frankly expressed their incompetency, those who had more teaching experience considered themselves competent.

3.2. Role of social studies lessons in values education

All teachers interviewed stated that social studies lessons play an important role in values education. Nearly half of the teachers (9 teachers) cited 'raising good citizens' as a goal of social studies lessons as the reason why this subject is important. They expressed the opinion that a good citizen might develop national values and virtues thanks to social studies lessons.

Nearly half of the teachers (8 teachers) remarked that social studies and values education were intertwined and that values were necessarily included in these lessons. Moreover, nearly half of the teachers (7 teachers) said that social studies lessons were intertwined with life in general. They stressed that values were indispensable in lessons that teach subjects concerning life. Four teachers pointed out that values education was important in three subjects (social studies, religious culture and moral knowledge and Turkish) and that social studies had a pivotal position within them.

3.3 Values thought to be instilled through social studies lessons

The teachers believed that values such as tolerance and respect for differences, love and respect, patriotism, awareness of democracy and fairness are primarily fostered through social studies. Furthermore, they stated that religious and national values such as respect for the flag and the national anthem, responsibility, national unity and solidarity, awareness of historical heritage, compassion, peace and hospitality were also part of these lessons. All these values are included in the social studies curriculum that is currently taught.

3.4. Values that are difficult to instil through social studies lessons

The teachers stated that they had difficulty promoting the values of respect and tolerance in particular in social studies lessons, emphasizing that students had no respect for each other and were constantly in conflict with each other. The teachers said that this problem is rooted in the family and social environment. Furthermore, they pointed out the degeneration of values in society and the family, adding that it was not actually possible to ameliorate this problem. One of the teachers interviewed explained the difficulty s/he had instilling the value of tolerance in this way: 'Kurdish, Zaza und Turkman [students] are all together, and they fight with each other'.

The values that the teachers partially had difficulty fostering in students include responsibility, justice, awareness of democracy, national unity and solidarity and patriotism. The reason they cited for placing these values in this category is that they are rather abstract.

3.5. Methods and approaches used in values education

Table 1. Methods and Approaches Used by Social Studies Teachers in Values Education

Approaches Methods f Zf

Being a role model 8

By Suggestion Expression Case study Written and literary products 7 7 2 24

By Values Clarification Experiential learning-by-doing Drama Educational trip 7 5 3 15

By Values Project-based learning 1 2

Analysis Performance tasks 1

The table shows that the teachers generally presented instruction in values through suggestion. The main goal in this approach is to imprint a set of predetermined values upon the minds of students. This method involves frequent and stressed repetition (Hunt, 1981; Naylor and Diem, 1987). The common methods that teachers preferred in using this approach were role modelling, lecturing and case studies. The main objective of these three methods is to instil an already determined set of values in students.

The second approach used by the teachers is values clarification. In this approach, an individual decides what s/he does or does not value based not on the suggestion of others but by freely making his/her own determination. While making a decision about the values that are important to him/her, the individual evaluates the alternatives for him/herself (Doganay, 2006; Naylor and Diem, 1987). The teachers said that they employed methods of experiential learning based on doing and living, drama and educational trips in this approach.

The least-used approach by teachers is values analysis. This approach was developed by social science educators and is intended to be used intensively in social studies lessons. The approach essentially involves employing scientific logic and reasoning. Two methods of this approach, which the teachers rarely used, are project-based learning and performance projects.

3.6. Problems confronted in values education

The problems confronted by teachers in values education can be categorized into four areas: family, curriculum and textbooks, students and social environment. According to the teachers, the family is the main problem that values education is confronted with. They described this situation as 'a clash of values given in the family with those given at school', citing poorly educated family members and the high number of siblings within a family as a reason for this problem. The teachers suggested that families should be instructed in values in order to address this issue.

The second problem area is inadequate time to present social studies lessons and a heavy curriculum. The teachers stated that as the instructional time was not adequate, they did not spend enough time on values education. They also pointed out that the textbooks were not suitable for instructing students on values. Regarding the third problem area, the teachers complained that the students did not achieve in this subject and were not interested in lessons related to values.

The fourth problem concerns environmental factors. A common complaint in this regard is the adverse effect of the social environment (groups of friends) on students' values, while another complaint concerns the adverse effect of mass media (i.e. TV, Internet). The teachers remarked that these values clashed with those taught at school, resulting in ineffective education in values.

3.7. Values education awareness of teachers

To determine the teachers' awareness about values education, the researchers addressed two questions to them, the first of which is, 'Is there a value or values beyond the curriculum that you wish to be instilled into students?', and the second of which is, 'How do you carry out the measurement and evaluation of values education?'

The results showed that nearly half of the teachers (9 teachers) did not answer the first question, which required suggestions from the teachers. The answer by one of the teachers designated T1 'The curriculum includes 500 values, how great!' indicates that the teachers did not know the values included in the curriculum. The teachers who answered the questions suggested that all values (respect, responsibility, cultural heritage awareness, justice, aesthetics etc.) are contained in the curriculum, which again indicates that the teachers were not aware of the values that are present in the curriculum. Most of the teachers (16 teachers) answered the second question concerning the measurement and evaluation of values as an observation, which shows that the teachers knew the main logic behind the measurement and evaluation of values education. Nonetheless, the results of the interview questions addressed to the teachers show that they assessed the observation results without using any measurement instruments. It is crucial to record the observations with the help of instruments such as a rubric or checklist. This result also shows that the teachers did not recognize the measurement and evaluation instruments for values education.

3.8. General opinions and suggestions of teachers about values education

Examination of the opinions and suggestions of teachers regarding values education reveals very different suggestions. They are as follows:

• Values education should start in the family. School age is too late for values education.

• Values education should be given as a separate lesson in schools (especially in educational faculties).

• Materials for values education (reading texts, films etc.) should be prepared and delivered to teachers.

• Values education should not only be given in classrooms but also be reinforced with out-of-classroom activities.

• Teacher-oriented training should be provided.

• Values education cannot be taught in theory. It should be taught in practice.

• Instead of instilling values in children by instruction, we should help them create their own value system.

• Values education should not only be provided at school. The family, social environment and media should also be included in this process; so they should all act in unison.

4. Conclusions and recommendation

Many problems were detected at the end of study, which sought to show the competency, implementation and problems that social studies teachers have in connection with instructing students in values. The first problem concerns teacher competency. All the teachers interviewed stated that they had not received an exhaustive education in values. Therefore, they did not have knowledge about values education. Yalar (2010) reached similar results in his study. It is important that teachers are trained on conveying values to students.

The teachers said that they regarded values education as important in social studies lessons and that values education was indispensable in social studies lessons that are aimed at producing good citizens. Studies by NCSS (1979), Naylor & Diem (1987) and Keskin (2008), which also observed that it is necessary to include values in social studies lessons, supported the views of the teachers.

The teachers who were interviewed stated that they had difficulty in instilling the values of respect and tolerance in students while teaching values. With reference to the news he included in this study, Keskin (2008) stated that key social values such as respect, love and respect were replaced by intolerance, conflict and consumption frenzy. The teachers described the problems they confronted in values education as being focused on family, curriculum and textbooks, students and social environment. Other problems concern a heavy curriculum, inadequate lesson time and textbooks unsuited to values education. Yaman and Keskin (2012) also found problems concerning the social studies curriculum and textbooks.

The results of this study show that teachers' awareness of values education is not enough. They could not recognize the values contained in the social studies curriculum. Moreover, they did not know which instruments they might use to measure and evaluate values.

The study shows that the teachers detected the shortcomings related to values education in the social studies lessons. Therefore, it is worth recommending that the Ministry of National Education initiate a study that takes teachers' views on values education into consideration.


Aydin, M. Z. (2005). Ailede gocugun ahlak egitimi. Istanbul: DEM Yayinlari.

Balat, G. U. & Dagal, A. B. (2006). Okul oncesi donemde degerler egitimi etkinlikleri. Ankara: Kok Yayincilik.

Baydar, P. (2009). Hkogretim be^inci sinif sosyal bilgiler programinda belirlenen degerlerin kazanim duzeyleri ve bu suregte ya§anan sorunlarin

degerlendirilmesi. (Yayinlanmami§ yuksek lisans tezi). Qukurova Universitesi, Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu, Adana. Doganay, A. (2006). Degerler egitimi. C. Ozturk ve D. Dilek (Ed.). Hayat bilgisi ve sosyal bilgiler ogretimi i§inde (pp.256-287). Ankara: Pegem Yayincilik.

Hunt, B. S.(1981). Effects of values activities on content retention and attitudes of students in junior high social studies classes. (Unpublished

Doctoral dissertation). Arizona State University, Arizona. Keskin, Y. (2008). Turkiye'de sosyal bilgiler ogretim programlarinda degerler egitimi: Tarihsel geli§im, 1998 ve 2004 programlarinin

etkililiginin ara§tirilmasi (Yayinlanmami§ doktora tezi). Marmara Universitesi, Egitim Bilimleri Enstitusu, Istanbul. Milli Egitim Bakanligi Talim ve Terbiye Kurulu Ba§kanligi [TTKB] (2011a). Sosyal Bilgiler Dersi (4-5. Sinflar) Ogretim Programi ve Kilavuzu.

Retrieved from Milli Egitim Bakanligi Talim ve Terbiye Kurulu Ba§kanligi [TTKB] (2011b). Sosyal Bilgiler Dersi (6-7. Siniflar) Ogretim Programi ve Kilavuzu.

Retrieved from Naylor, D. T. & Diem, R. A. (1987). Elementary and middle school social studies. New York: Random House.

National Council for the Social Studies [NCSS] (1979). Revision of the ncss social studies curriculum guidelines. Social Education, 43, 261-278. Onur, N. (2007). Modernle§me surecinde okul, aile ve medya kav§aginda toplumsal degerler. R. Kaymakcan,H. Hokelekli, §. Aslan ve M.

Zengin (Ed.). Degerler ve egitimi uluslararasi sempozyumu kitabi i§inde (pp. 157-176). Istanbul: DEM Yayinlari. Ozturk, C. (2007). Sosyal bilgiler: toplumsal ya§ama disiplinlerarasi bir baki§. C. Ozturk (Ed.). Hayat bilgisi ve sosyal bilgiler ogretimi

yapilandirmaci biryakla§im i§inde (pp. 21-50). Ankara: Pegem A Yayincilik. Pring, R. (2010). Introduction. T. Lovat, R. Toomey and N. Clement. International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing inside. UK: Springer.

Vrasmas, A. (2001). Family and Education. M. Calin and M. Dumitrana (Ed.) Values and education in Romania today inside. Washington D.C.: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (collective work). retrieved from

Yalar, T. (2010). Hkogretim sosyal bilgiler programinda degerler egitiminin mevcut durumunun belirlenmesi ve ogretmenlere yonelik bir program modulu geligtirme (Yayinlanmami§ doktora tezi). Mersin Universitesi, Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu, Mersin.

Yaman, E. & Keskin, Y. (2012). Sosyal bilgiler ders kitaplarinda degerler egitimi etkinlikleri: ogretim programi ile uyum ve yeterlilik duzeyi [Oz]. Uluslararasi Degerler Egitimi Sempozyumu ozetleri i§inde. istanbul: Degerler Egitimi Merkezi.

Yildirim, K. (2009). Values educaiton experiences of Turkish class teachers: a phenemonological approach. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 35, 165-184.