Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Chair/Advisor

Cynthia M Deaton

Committee Member

LaGarrett J King

Committee Member

Hans Klar

Committee Member

Celeste Bates


Educational scholars and political theorists credit the use of discussion in the K-12 classroom as a way to provide students with a democratic education through its ability to incorporate various perspectives, inform students of current events and issues, and teach students to think critically about a range of topics. Despite this, however, an extensive body of research details the lack of discussion occurring in K-12 classrooms in the United States. This study seeks to examine this issue by exploring the associations preservice social studies teachers make between the underlying principles of democratic education and the use of discussion in the social studies classroom. The present qualitative multi-case study examines how six preservice social studies teachers at a large southeastern university define, conceptualize, and value discussion as a pedagogical approach. Findings suggest that preservice social studies teachers do see value in the use of discussion and associate it with broad themes of democratic education. However, because their understandings of democratic education are often vague and unclear, the associations being made often do not reflect the work being conducted within academia. This study has potential to make a substantial contribution to both the fields of teacher education and social studies education by providing scholars in both fields with a better understanding of how preservice social studies conceptualize discussion as a pedagogical approach and the extent to which they can connect the practice with theories of democratic education.



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