For over 25 years, Shaver’s (1991) Handbook of Research on Social Studies Teaching and Learning has been a foundational text in the field of social studies education. It was published by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) “to provide a comprehensive view and analysis of research in the field” (p. ix). The literal and figurative weight of that text, with its thick brown, hard back cover and gold letters, has been a perennial presence in the field since it was published.
Levstik and Tyson’s (2008) Handbook of Research in Social Studies Education expanded on the previous handbook by including chapters about topics with considerable “research activity,” “a major emphasis in the NCSS standards,” or “an emerging or reemerging field within the social studies” (p. xix). They documented a vital and diverse field, while also illustrating the complexity of the field and the challenges faced.
We envisioned the present Wiley Handbook of Social Studies Research (2017) as building on and extending previous work by providing a comprehensive, contemporary discussion of issues facing our field. The task of picking up where previous handbooks left off seemed enormous. We understood the footsteps we were following and the high expectations for our work. Each of the authors we worked with took seriously the aim of this text—to clearly and concisely document the current state of the art in social studies research, while also charting a path forward for future research in the field.
This handbook has been developed for readers as a research reference text. It includes detailed chapters focused on the history of the field, research methodologies, theoretical frameworks, and current and emerging trends in social studies educational research. It is an authoritative reference guide for both novice and established researchers. The primary intended audience includes social studies researchers, teacher educators, and graduate students. This text will also be helpful to preservice and in‐service teachers, educational leaders, curriculum specialists, and policy makers interested in improving social studies teaching and learning.
The field of social studies has evolved, matured, and shifted in focus since the Shaver (1991) handbook was published. At that time Armento wrote in the handbook (1991) about a “quiet revolution” in social studies research brought about by “four societal forces – public debate, funded projects, the cognitive psychology movement, and fervor in the social sciences” (p. 185). As a result of these social forces, she observed “fundamental” shifts in the research on social studies. Important among these shifts were the new epistemological traditions being employed by social studies researchers, especially “interpretive and critical analysis” representing a “more inclusive range of perspectives” (p. 186). She identified five characteristics that marked the evolution of social studies research, including: “changes in paradigms, in views of teachers, in the units of analysis, in instructional foci, and in the definition of the field” (p. 186). Contemporary social studies researchers have inherited the legacy of this “quiet revolution.”
This current handbook demonstrates the extent to which our field has grown as a result of social and intellectual shifts over the past 25 years. The chapters in this handbook trace the emergence of new topics and concerns, as well as the evolution of educational research methodologies. As the field of social studies education has matured, we have witnessed an expansion in the form and function of educational research. Today, a majority of social studies educational researchers use qualitative research methodologies and, increasingly, they are engaging practitioners as collaborative partners in research endeavors.
The shift from mainly experimental or quasi‐experimental designs to interpretive or critical approaches has led to changes in the way social studies researchers approach theory—from those interested in generating theory through scientific inquiry to predict student behavior and outcomes in social studies classrooms to those interested in using theory as a lens to interpret observed phenomenon in a naturalistic setting. The epistemological diversity of our field as well as the concomitant range of theoretical frameworks and research methodologies being employed by social studies researchers has enhanced the scope of the “body of knowledge” or “knowledge base for teaching and learning” (Barton, 2006) that defines our field.
This Wiley Handbook of Social Studies Research describes contemporary trends in social studies research as well as the epistemological diversity of this work. Similar to the 1991 handbook we wish to raise issues of theory and methodology. The current field of social studies education represents a diverse field with myriad research traditions and trends. This text highlights the richness of our field while providing a reference book to support future research endeavors. The guiding objectives for this text include:
- Provide an accurate accounting of the state of the field of social studies education.
- Explore current theoretical frameworks dominating the field.
- Present an overview of the major research paradigms dominating the field.
- Represent important trends in research in social education.
- Explore areas of need for future research.
1.3 Development of the Wiley Handbook of Social Studies Research
This handbook project began with a phone call to James Shaver. He listened to our ideas and encouraged us to consider topics absent in earlier handbooks. Retired now for several years, he graciously answered our call to serve on the advisory board of this text. We are greatly appreciative for his encouragement and insight. Our next step was to convene an advisory board. James Shaver was joined by Patricia Avery, Margaret Crocco, J. B. Mayo, Walter Parker, Cinthia Salinas, and Stephen Thornton (some of whom had served as authors and reviewers for the 1991 and 2008 handbooks). The advisory board informed and guided the development of the handbook; they assisted with the development of a list of topics for the chapters, with suggested authors and reviewers. Once we had a list of topics for chapters, a table of contents was sent to reviewers. After revisions to the table of contents, authors were recruited based on their expertise. They were asked to submit abstracts and tentative outlines for each chapter. These outlines were reviewed by members of the advisory board. After receiving feedback, the authors then developed and submitted drafts of their chapters which were again sent out for blind review to members of the educational research community. Based on feedback they received, the authors submitted revised drafts for final review by the editors and members of the advisory board. This lengthy and iterative process of submission and review ensured that each chapter was thoroughly vetted and met the high standards of the project.
1.4 Scope and Structure
The scope and structure of this Handbook of Social Studies Research evolved through deliberations with our advisory board members and based on reviewer feedback. We asked authors to approach the social studies as an interdisciplinary field. As such, we did not include separate chapters for the disciplines that make up the social studies, e.g. history, economics, geography. As Hahn points out in her summative chapter, however, the bulk of current research in our field has focused on history instruction. This handbook reflects that trend. Readers will also note that the majority of the chapters focus primarily on research conducted by social studies educators in the United States. This is due to the publisher’s desire to create a handbook that reflects the work of the Social Studies Research Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), as well as was the product of the close affiliation of many of our authors to the College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).
Our text is divided into three sections:
- Foundations of social studies research
- Frameworks guiding social studies research
- Teaching and learning social studies
While there may be some overlap across these sections, we determined to first focus on the history of the field of the social studies, the epistemic diversity within the field, and the methods used by researchers. This introduction provides a necessary foundation for the analysis of contemporary research on social studies teaching and learning. Of course, the chapters in each section and across sections should be viewed as in conversation with each other.
1.4.1 Section I. Foundations of Social Studies Research
The first section begins with two comprehensive overviews of foundational and theoretical work in our field. Using these chapters as a starting point, the section moves on to focus on research methodology. In light of continued concern about the rigor of social studies educational research, we include chapters on quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to continue the conversation about these methodological approaches and the characteristics that define “quality” research in these traditions. Although some might argue that having separate chapters only further bifurcates quantitative and qualitative research, we cannot ignore the real differences in epistemological approaches between the methods, nor the persistent debates in educational research regarding the merit of qualitative research and what constitutes “scientific” educational research (see also Berliner, 2002, Gutiérrez & Penuel, 2014; IES, 2013; Rudolph, 2014; Wieman, 2014).
Looming over current extant research in our field is the age‐old question about the disconnect between research and practice (Barton, 2006; Shaver, 1991, 2001; Stanley, 2005; Van Manen, 1975). As such, we include a chapter on practitioner research which represents a relatively new and emerging research domain in our field. Here we trace the increasing interes...