Outliers: Elementary teachers who actually teach social studies

Document Type

Conference Paper in Published Proceedings


School of Education, Leadership, and Public Service

Publication Date



This mixed methods study identified six elementary teachers, who despite the widespread marginalization of elementary social studies, spent considerable time on the subject. These six outliers from a sample of 46 Michigan elementary teachers were interviewed, and their teaching was observed in order to better understand how and why they deviate from the norm. An autonomy-versus-control continuum is used to frame how teachers decide what, when, and how to teach. Challenging existing literature that suggests that additional attention to elementary social studies comes from testing pressure or by providing teachers with autonomy, findings of this study reveal that five of the six teachers taught social studies frequently and extensively because their schedules were externally controlled to designate specific time for social studies instruction.

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