About the Study

What issue is this study seeking to address?

Currently, social studies teachers teaching about difficult histories are faced with an additional pedagogical challenge: we are living in difficult times. Social studies teachers are under a great deal of stress as they navigate punitive legislation, curriculum censorship, and pressures to exclude particular topics, ideas, or perspectives in their classroom. Beyond such pressures, teachers must also navigate the emotional and affective responses such difficult histories elicit.

However, there is currently very little empirical research on the teaching and learning of difficult histories from the perspective of emotions. There is need for more research on the ways in which emotions intersect with, shape, or inform teachers’ decisions and practices related to teaching about difficult histories. 

What is this study about? 

This research study seeks to examine how teachers navigate their own emotions, integrate students’ emotions, and incorporate emotional discourses into the practice of teaching about difficult histories. This research also seeks to contextualize how teachers navigate contentious aims, purposes, and potentially restrictive regulations from local, regional, national, and global contexts within the increasingly divisive sociocultural contexts of the United States.

The goals of this research study are especially relevant at a time when history and history education are under attack. Now, more than ever, teachers need support as they confront difficult histories in their classrooms and address uncomfortable classroom discourse.

What are the questions this study seeks to answer? 

1. How does emotion interact with secondary social studies teachers’ pedagogical reasoning related to the teaching of difficult histories?

    • How do teachers acknowledge and reconcile their own emotions as they engage in pedagogical reasoning related to difficult histories?
    • How do teachers anticipate and negotiate students’ emotions as they engage in pedagogical reasoning related to difficult histories?
    • How does the contested landscape relative to the teaching of difficult histories complicate, challenge, and/or potentially constrain teachers’ pedagogical decisions and practices related to difficult histories?

2. Is there an association between pedagogical approaches used to teach about difficult histories and perceptions of challenges associated with teaching difficult histories?

Am I eligible to participate? 

You are eligible to participate in this study if you meet the following criteria: You are a secondary (9th – 12th grade) social studies or history teacher in the United States.

Why should I participate?   

You may benefit from the opportunity to examine and reflect on your curricular and instructional decisions related to teaching difficult histories. You may also appreciate the opportunity to support research to improve our understanding of the ways in which teachers navigate their own emotions and integrate students’ emotionality as they make curricular and pedagogical choices about what, when, why, and how to represent difficult histories. Such understandings will yield important implications for how to teach about and research difficult histories, leading to new opportunities for teachers, teacher educators, and researchers.

What will happen to my information?

  • All data will be de-identified and anonymous.

  • Results from this study may eventually be published in an academic journal and/or presented at research conferences. No identifying information will ever be linked to your data.

  • This research project has been approved by the research ethics board at my University and is being supervised by my faculty adviser who has extensive research experience and expertise in secondary social studies education.

If you would like to participate in the first phase of the study, please click on this link to the survey.