Article Title

Outliers: Elementary teachers who actually teach social studies.

Journal Title/Source

The Social Studies

Publication Date




Issue (if applicable)


Page Numbers


DOI (if applicable)


Document Type

Journal Article


School of Education, Leadership, and Public Service


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 forty-six Michigan elementary teachers were interviewed, and their teaching was observed 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.