GATEways 2023 (volume 33, issue 1)

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GATEways to Teacher Education

of Teacher Educators
Volume 33, Issue 1 Spring 202

GATEways Special Issue Call for Manuscripts: Enlightening,

Investing, and

Reclaiming Power in Adversarial Times

Deadline for manuscript submissions is July 15, 2023

Editors: Dr. LaTasha Adams and Dr. Jennifer Curl


The ongoing context of silencing educators necessitates this special edition: Enlightening, Investing, and Reclaiming Power in Adversarial Times. Against this background, this special issue asks:

• How do these adversarial times impact the work we do as educators?

• How does policy and practices (i.e. Georgia House Bill 1084 from 2021-2022 legislation session) impact our work in education and teacher education?

• What role does an investment in ourselves for resistance play in teaching and learning?

• What role does agency play in these adversarial times within the context of education and educational policy?

• How can educators engage in “good trouble” given our current context?

Potential Foci of Contributions

The special issue is aimed to be broad in scope. We are inviting high quality, original contributions that impact teaching, learning, and teaching education. Contributions to the special issue might address, but are by no means limited to, the following points:

• Enlightening and Awareness: Policies and Practices for Advocacy

• Investing in Ourselves for Resistance

• Reclaiming Agency: Moving from Fear to Freedom

• Engaging in Good Trouble

• Navigating Digital Equity and Landscapes

Project descriptions, research reports, theoretical papers, debates, papers espousing a particular point of view, and descriptions of activities or issues in teacher education at the local, state, or national level would be appropriate topics for the journal.

Submission Procedure:

Submit all completed manuscripts to by July 15, 2023. Submissions should:

• adhere to APA (7th edition) style,

• include title page with author name(s) and affiliation(s),

• include autobiographical sketches of the author(s) (three to five sentences each) on a separate page,

• include title and abstract (150 words maximum) on the first page of manuscript (exclude author affiliation),

• include a manuscript that is a minimum of words 2500 words (without counting title page, reference page, tables, charts, etc.)

• include a signed submission checklist (found on GATEways website)

• be submitted as three Word documents: (1) title page (2) autobiographical sketches (3) manuscript (4) signed submission checklist.

GATEways to Teacher Education

April 2023: Volume 33, Issue 1


Letter from the President Page 1

Thoughts from the Editors Page 2-3

Becoming a Teacher During a Global Pandemic: Navigating Field Experiences During Covid-19 Page 4-11

The shift to online and remote learning in the spring of 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, led teacher educators to put classes online and adjust field experiences to meet an ever-changing need. This study explores the experiences of nineteen elementary education pre-service teachers who entered the field during a global pandemic and were completing their second semester of elementary education coursework and field experiences. Findings highlight increased technology integration and the ability of pre-service teachers to adapt and be flexible as positive learning opportunities brought about by Covid-19. Building and maintaining meaningful teacher-student relationships (both at the college level and in elementary school placements) was one of the biggest challenges. Is Lecture a Four-Letter Word? A Study of Graduate Teacher Educators’ Perspectives on Page 12-30

Lecture as an Instructional Method in Social Studies

The large-scale shift to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic ignited widespread reflection among social studies educators about how to adjust instructional methods to promote engaged learning. Through the application of the National Council for the Social Studies Powerful andAuthentic Framework, the purpose of this study is to examine in-service and pre-service middle and secondary social studies teachers’views on lecture as an instructional method in order to ascertain how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts their decisions on which teaching strategies to implement in virtual, blended, or in-person settings. Major findings show that in-service and pre-service middle and secondary social studies teachers lecture because of 1) their familiarity with the instructional method from their experiences as students, 2) the efficiency of the method due to the breadth and depth of the social studies curriculum, and 3) the adjustment to teaching in online or hybrid formats due to the pandemic.

“Why Do I have to Do This?” Strategically Connecting Course Content to Authentic Page 31-40 Contexts Beyond the Classroom

Frequently, educators hear questions from their students, such as, “Why do we have to do this?” or “When will I ever use this in the real world?” Questions such as these are legitimate and should be of utmost importance to educators at all levels because it directly addresses the relevancy of their course content. Educators should know and be able to communicate the “real world beyond the classroom” value of course content to their students. This paper describes systematic and deliberate approaches used by six faculty members at a regional, four-year university to promote authentic learning which educators can easily adapt and implement in a variety of educational contexts to help bridge the authenticity gap between theory and practice.

Letter from the President

Kudos to the contributors and editors for producing such an outstanding issue of GATEways. Your talents, diligence, and commitment are much appreciated! GATEways is aptly named, as it is a gateway to improving teaching and learning. Presenting your scholarship at our annual conference is another way to make an impact.

The Georgia Association of Teacher Educators (GATE) convenes its 2023 annual conference at the Jekyll Island Club on October 12 and 13 under a pall of orthodoxy cast by those who desire to bring about a chilling effect to our work. Efforts to regulate classroom speech about race, class, gender and cleansing standards of words such as diversity, inclusion and bias are all intended to silence voices that yearn for a more just and equitable world for children. But we will not be silent.

Georgia teachers endure low pay, prestige, large classes, over-testing, wasted time, staff shortages, resource scarcity, lack of support, disinterested learners, lack of discipline and many more challenges. The time for handwringing has passed Now is ripe for all stakeholders to join in a conversation to restore the profession in our state.

Although these issues loom large in our discourse, there are so many others that need our attention. More knowledge about instruction, as well as promoting physical and mental well-being, are needed. Innovations in technology, clinical practice and assessment must be on the agenda. Hearing from educational leaders from all

stripes is essential as well. The 2023 conference theme, Enlightening, Investing and Reclaiming Power in Adversarial Times, is a call to action. Guided by the conference strands below, decide how you can contribute to the conversation:

Strand 1: Enlightening, and Awareness: Policies and Practices for Advocacy.

Strand 2: Investing in Ourselves for Resistance.

Strand 3: Reclaiming Agency: moving from fear to freedom.

Strand 4: Engaging in Good Trouble.

Strand 5: Navigating Digital Equity and Landscapes.

Become a part of the legacy, consider submitting your manuscript for publication in GATEways, and be sure to keep engaged with GATE. Together we will make a difference.



GATEways to Teacher Education

A journal of the Georgia Association of Teacher Educators

Thoughts from the Editors

Three years into a world with Covid, the GATEways’ inbox continues to fill with submissions that reflect an undeniable truth: the effects of this virus continue to be reckoned with in education. Putting the Spring issue together, we deliberated on whether readers would find interest in yet another article on teaching during Covid, becoming a teacher during Covid, education gaps left by Covid, etc.. Our concern appeared to be premature and on reflection we realized very little has had such a sweeping effect on education in our lifetimes as Covid, and that our reflections, our research, and our reassessment of best practices in teacher education and student achievement are needed now more than ever.

In our Thoughts from the Editors this issue, Dr. Jennifer Curl, an English teacher with Henry County Schools, offers reflections from the PK-12 perspective, and Dr. LaTashaAdams, a teacher educator with Clayton State University, presents thoughts from the field of higher education.

PK-12 Reflection

My twenty-five-year-old son began his first year of teaching in August 2022. Though Covid arrived during his undergraduate studies, he started his practicum in the Fall of 2021 and received an in-person experience with his mentor teachers and their students. While his practicum was not impeded by Covid, now, as an elementary music teacher, he witnesses the effect the pandemic left on his young students. Many children now in the second and third grade, received their introduction to formal education in front of a computer screen. The experiences of personal

interaction, engagement with teachers and classmates, and the liberty of recess, were placed on hold, to be received much later than earlier generations.As a consequence, first year teachers like my son, and veteran teachers alike, are working through, around, and trying to fill those notorious gaps in their students’education.

As Dr. Adams reflects in her Higher Education section, we cannot go back. Educators at all levels of teaching entered uncharted territory in the Spring of 2020 when Covid closed schools across the country. We responded with the tools we had and the best practices we relied on for decades. Now, as teacher educators, teacher leaders, and administrators, it is time to reassess. The articles in this issue illustrate just a few ways in which Covid has altered the landscape in education. Recently, a colleague told me of watching another teacher’s observation by her university supervisor. My colleague shared with me the frustration she felt as the university professor delivered recommendations to the young teacher. Her frustration derived from the professor’s suggestions that reflected a clear lack of understanding of the gaps postCovid students possess and the adjustments the classroom teachers have made to meet students’needs Well-intended as they were, the feedback the professor gave her student were stock best practices that were not appropriate for the students in this particular classroom. Her feedback illustrated the disconnect that often exists between teacher education programs and the realities that new teachers are facing. While this is not a new problem, this anecdote underpins the understanding we came to as editors putting the Spring issue together: As eager as we are to put Covid behind us, we are only scratching the surface with its impact on teaching.

Higher Education Reflection

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Recently, a student teacher in the field emailed me and said, “I wish I could have observed more teachers during my classwork.” This statement struck me because it was a direct result of how we’ve had to pivot due to Covid-19. Usually, my students are immersed in the Pk-12 schools and gain several contact hours observing teaching and learning and working directly with students. The usual assignments that students have allow them to reflect on their experience, connect theory to practice, and create their teaching philosophy which allows them to imagine how they would like their classrooms to function. When Covid, struck, my students could not visit physical classrooms because visitors were not allowed in schools even after schools reopened. My students did observe and analyze several videos from past student teachers, current teachers, and general videos that would focus on isolated skills. These activities left my students feeling isolated and withdrawn from the impromptu beauty that occurs in the classroom. Fast forward a few years to their student teaching and now the gaps from this pivot are noticeable.

There is nothing that we can do about the past, but what will our future bring? The next steps for teacher education and education in general are to take a keen look at the outcomes that are occurring due to our pivots and ensure that we address those outcomes and strive for success. This means that working committees may need to form at the higher education level. Yes, no one wants to work on another committee, but more so than that, no one wants our teachers underprepared. This means that we all must collaborate and think critically about the role of teachers, pre-service teachers, teacher educators and the impact that we will have on teaching and learning in the coming years.


The implications for teaching and learning in a pseudo-post Covid world have incredible, perhaps lasting effects on student success both at the pK-12 and higher education levels. No one person, nor one institution or district will have the answers, however, we must encourage meaningful dialogue between K12 educators and teacher education institutions to not only ameliorate the impact of Covid on students, but to ensure that all educators are prepared to meet the needs of their students going forward. Here’s a hint: it begins in the classroom.

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GATEways to Teacher Education

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Becoming a Teacher During a Global Pandemic: Navigating Field Experiences During Covid-19

The shift to online and remote learning in the spring of 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, led teacher educators to put classes online and adjust field experiences to meet an ever-changing need. This study explores the experiences of nineteen elementary education pre-service teachers who entered the field during a global pandemic and were completing their second semester of elementary education coursework and field experiences. Findings highlight increased technology integration and the ability of pre-service teachers to adapt and be flexible as positive learning opportunities brought about by Covid-19. Building and maintaining meaningful teacher-student relationships (both at the college level and in elementary school placements) was one of the biggest challenges.

Keywords: Covid-19, pre-service teacher education, field experiences, technology, relationship building

For students and teachers in the southeast, everything changed on March 12, 2020. Schools were closed and families were encouraged to social distance and essentially quarantine. Quickly, things changed. For the remainder of that spring semester, there would be no more face-to-face class sessions with students working in small groups, presenting, giving feedback, sharing, talking, and laughing together (MundyHenderson & Martin, 2020). Instead, teacher educators were asked to pivot and move courses and field experiences online.

Students were asked to assimilate to this new format and learn how to Zoom, join chat rooms,

meet synchronously while muting and unmuting, sharing screens, and so forth. The expectations for those in the field of education were even greater, as they were expected to master this new set of skills for both their university courses and their field placements (K-5 elementary classrooms). In schools across the world, the public health crisis led to a huge and immediate shift from classroom face-to-face instruction to remote learning. To those school districts who were fortunate enough to have the technology readily available, computers and Chrome Books were issued to students and remote learning began through a series of whole class synchronous zoom sessions (Brown, 2020; Wagner, 2020). To the school districts that did not have technology readily available, packets of work were made for parents to pick up outside of the school hoping the parents/guardians would have technology (iPads, smart phones, and/or computers) that their children could use to log-on and attend class sessions when able.

During this global pandemic, all students (K12 and post-secondary) have experienced a huge decrease in the social contact they have with their peers. In the beginning of the pandemic, many students were required to attend school remotely or in a hybrid fashion and even one year later (when this study occurred) most K-12 classrooms still operated at a limited in person capacity with online and hybrid instruction being the norm (Murphy, Cook, & Fallon, 2021). The initial school shutdown created a particular challenge for university faculty who instruct and supervise field-based courses (Kahn & Williams,

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2021). As approximately 70% of students’inschool learning had been disrupted worldwide because of the Covid-19 pandemic, university students’field experiences changed and for faculty it was very much like trying to fly the plane as it was being built (United Nations, Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 2019).

What schools initially thought would only last for a couple of weeks has now extended into our current reality–with masks still being required from time to time and quarantines still occurring periodically because of Covid-19 exposures It has been unlike anything educators (or most Americans) had ever experienced, and thus there is a need to examine such experiences. This study explores the experiences of nineteen elementary education pre-service teachers who entered the field during a global pandemic.

Data Collection andAnalysis

At our southeastern university, there are approximately 8,300 undergraduate students enrolled. Of that, approximately 80 choose to major in elementary education. Elementary education students typically enter the College of Education in their junior year and are placed in cohorts where they complete four semesters, which we call blocks, of coursework and field experiences, with student teaching in their fourth and final block. Blocks 1-3 contain a mix of methods/theory courses with complementary field experiences embedded within each methods course. During the first three semesters, field experiences range from 60 to 120 hours. Within the first three blocks, pre-service teachers are expected to teach a minimum of nine lessons, with course instructors observing a minimum of three–though instructors are there daily (during non-Covid times) to observe informally, answer questions, and provide guidance when needed. In addition to teaching lessons, pre-service teachers are also expected to assist the teacher with day-to-day teaching tasks, including running small groups, read-alouds, and organizing centers.


The cohort of nineteen elementary education pre-service teachers in this study was in their second block of education coursework at the time of data collection (spring 2021). This cohort was selected because these students

entered the elementary education program in the fall of 2020 and have thus had no pre-pandemic field experiences. The pre-service teachers in the cohort identified as 2 White males and 15 females (6 Black and 9 White). In their block 2 placements, seven students were placed in classrooms that had both face-to-face and online learners, ten were placed in classrooms that were solely face-to-face, and the remaining two were placed in classrooms that were completely virtual. Pre-service teachers were placed in grades K-5 depending on cooperating teachers’ willingness and ability to work with university students.

Data Sources

Data collection occurred during the spring of 2021 (January-May). It consisted of two main sources: coursework and interviews. The coursework was collected throughout the semester and the interviews occurred at the end of the semester.


The coursework consisted of: three sets of lesson plans, reflections, teacher-analysis project, culturally responsive teaching project, and a final exam.All coursework was collected throughout the spring 2021 (January-May) semester and stored on the university’s online platform.

Lesson plans (x3). Lesson plans were typically 5-7 pages and included the state standard, learning objectives, assessments, behavior management process, differentiation, introduction to the lesson, body of the lesson, and then the conclusion of the lesson. The student emailed each lesson to me as the course professor and the student’s cooperating teacher 48 hours prior to instruction. Once approved, the pre-service teacher would teach the lesson and then meet with me afterward to debrief the lesson.

Reflections (x3). Areflection was required after each lesson debrief. A debrief is when the student and I discuss the things that went well during the lesson and the areas where adjustments need to be made. The pre-service teachers are asked to address the following prompts in their reflections: a) Provide a detailed description of what occurred throughout the lesson. b) What did students do well with and what are they still struggling with related to the

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learning targets? c) Describe the effectiveness of the teaching strategies and planned supports. d) Based on the analysis of students’learning and teaching effectiveness, what are your next steps to strengthen your teaching practiceAND support students’learning?

TeacherAnalysis Project. Students were required to video record the teaching of one of their lesson plans. From that recording, they then extracted clips that provided a sample of how they modeled and interacted with students to develop the essential literacy strategy(s) and related skills for the lesson’s central focus.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Project. The Culturally responsive teaching project comprises four parts–a rationale, lesson plan, inclass presentation, and a reflection. For this project, students select a culturally responsive picture book and explain why they chose that book in their rationale. They then develop a lesson plan that uses the book as a mentor text. The class then divides into four small groups where each pre-service teacher has 25 minutes to teach the lesson they designed. They teach this lesson to their peer group; thus each pre-service teacher is exposed to several culturally responsive texts. Finally, students write a reflection detailing their experience and what they learned.

Final Exam. The final exam is composed of 25 true/false and multiple-choice questions and 2 short answers. Pre-service teachers were allowed to complete the final exam online and could use course notes and/or texts.


Interviews were conducted at the end of the semester and took approximately 10-15 minutes. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. These interviews were used primarily to member check the information learned through coursework. It also allowed me to ask follow-up questions if there was something in the data that seemed to be a bit of an outlier. For example, in my interview with Chelsea, I asked her why in her reflection she stated that small group instruction was a struggle and something she was uncomfortable with, and she replied, “I wasn’t great at navigating all of the breakout rooms and then trying to get them to interact with each other and me–it was a lot. Whole group was just easier–in the bigger group you

could usually count on someone to reply.” I asked her about this because, typically in faceto-face learning environments, my students prefer small groups as it seems less intimidating, and they can form better relationships with their students. However, online Chelsea had different experiences. In addition to providing this method of member checking, the interviews also provided pre-service teachers with a way to ask questions about the semester and, specifically, this research project.


Data were analyzed using constantcomparative analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). This type of analysis helps the researcher compare people, incidents, and categories within data (Charmaz, 2000). Three levels of coding were used to analyze the data: a) open coding, b) axial coding, and c) selective coding. I began with open coding, in which I examined all the data and looked for different categories that emerged. The following open codes were common during this stage of the analysis: technology fail, Covid protocols, new skills, tech integration, and flexibility. Next, I engaged in axial coding, where I looked for the connection among the categories and subcategories of data (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Within this step, I went back through my data and open codes and noticed the relationship and connections among the codes. The following are examples of some of the axial codes that emerged: successful technology integration, resiliency, restrictions, frustrations, and relationships.

In the final stage of coding (selective coding), core categories emerge, systematically connecting them to the other codes/categories and confirming the similarities among them. The core categories that emerged in this study were a) the challenges that pre-service teachers faced in the field because of the Covid-19 pandemic and b) the learning opportunities that completing field experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic offered.

To ensure trustworthiness and credibility, I discussed the data and findings with the participants and solicited their feedback. I also looked for findings that did not confirm my initial analysis. While I found stand-alone codes (codes that occurred within only one participant’s data–e.g., a pre-service teacher

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struggling to attend the virtual sessions on time), I did not find codes that negated my analysis Additionally, the data was triangulated by looking for consistencies and inconsistencies among multiple participants and data sources (various coursework and interviews) as described above.


Block 2 pre-service teachers faced hybrid college courses–courses that were held both online and face-to-face. Masks were a requirement both on college campuses and in their field experiences. Field experiences ranged from socially distanced classrooms to completely online Zoom sessions to a combination of both. To say that the pre-service teachers needed to be flexible and determined under these circumstances is an understatement. As reflected in coursework, pre-service teachers were pulling double duties submitting both faceto-face lesson plans and lesson plans students could complete online. Pre-service teachers needed to think of creative ways to engage both online and face-to-face students–sometimes simultaneously. This is no small feat for a second-semester college of education student. While course instructors and professors attempted to provide them with resources and pedagogical knowledge, we were all learning on the fly and Microsoft Teams, Zoom, virtual classrooms, Go React, and the numerous other online platforms were new and often initially clumsy to administer.

Challenges in the Field

The seven pre-service teachers who were placed in classrooms that had both face-to-face students and online students found it difficult to manage both. One pre-service teacher wrote in her lesson reflection, “Trying to come up with hands-on activities that both in-person and Zoom kids could do simultaneously took a lot of time and work.” Multiple activities meant more work and preparation on the pre-service teachers’parts; however, more troubling to them seemed to be the fear that they were not successfully teaching either group well.Apreservice teacher wrote in her lesson reflection, “It was incredibly difficult to teach both groups at the same time and make sure each kid had everything they needed without gluing myself to

my computer and without neglecting either group of students.”

Restrictions Due to Covid-19 Protocols Covid-19 protocols, while necessary, were difficult for the pre-service teachers to navigate. Many of them noted they felt like mask monitors, and it added another layer of classroom management to tell students to raise their masks constantly. The pre-service teachers who were in classrooms that had face-to-face instruction noted that the masks and social distance requirements led them to feel disconnected from their students and vice versa. One pre-service teacher noted, “It became harder to learn names, to gauge moods and attentiveness, and just to see them smile and connect.” They shared this sentiment among the pre-service teachers who were in face-to-face classrooms. In semesters past, I often read of how they grew to really care about their students and how much they were going to miss them when the semester finished and though this group of pre-service teachers cared about their students, the connection did not seem as strong as previous semesters.

While the pre-service teachers who delivered instruction online did not wear masks, they felt that the Zoom classroom with the students in tiny boxes all over the screen made it hard to truly connect and form relationships. They also felt like students’parents/guardians were listening to all their lessons and this added a level of anxiety for the pre-service teachers as one noted, “I’m still learning what I am doing, and it is nerve-wracking to have a parent listening to every word I am saying and judging me.”

Finally, the seven pre-service teachers who were placed in hybrid classrooms (some students attended face-to-face while others were online) often complained of doing double the work. “I must prepare a face-to-face lesson for my students in the classroom, but I also must make sure that it can be done by my students who remain at home. Their parents come and pick the packets up the week before so I cannot make any changes–even if it would make sense to make changes–it’s very frustrating!” Part of the Covid19 protocols included students and their parents being able to choose face-to-face or online instruction and for those who chose online the

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teachers would prepare printed copies of all the handouts and leave them in a crate outside the school for pickup so the students could follow along with the lesson they were attending virtually. The packets often ended up being a lot of work to put together and ultimately left the pre-service teachers feeling stuck in their teaching and like they could not make changes that would strengthen instruction.

Forming and Maintaining Relationships

The relationships formed with the pre-service teachers and their cooperating teachers, professors, and elementary students were noted in all reflections as being strained, and one of the main reasons for the strain was the attendance issues caused by Covid. In the spring of 2021, Covid-19 exposure mandated a 10-day quarantine. Elementary students, cooperating teachers, and pre-service teachers could attend school one day, just to be told that someone in the class tested positive for Covid-19 and they would then pivot to online instruction the very next day. This was a daunting task and led to strained relationships between students and teachers and a disconnect in academics. As one pre-service teacher commented, “It seems that it’s one step forward and two steps back. As soon as we get into a rhythm, Covid rears its ugly head and we must shut it down.” Another student also commented on the attendance issue noting, “I got back from being virtual with students for 10 days and then my cooperating teacher got a positive test and had to go virtual, so essentially, we haven’t seen each other in person for almost 20-days… it’s just hard.” This lack of consistency in who was virtual and who was present made forming and maintaining relationships a near impossibility.

Pre-service teachers felt this lack of connection extended to the relationships they formed with their college professors as well. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, professors and instructors were in and out of their pre-service teachers’classrooms daily, but with the new Covid-19 protocols, schools limited the number of outside visitors and requested that professors only visit when conducting an observation. While professors were available via email and Zoom, spontaneous learning opportunities or conversations that lead to connections and authentic learning were no longer possible.

Block 2 students needed more in-person support, as described in a lesson reflection. “I wish professors were around during lab hours so we could communicate in person. Emails can be difficult to get immediate responses and it’s hard to read how a professor feels about my concerns or questions.”Another pre-service teacher commented similarly, “I want to see my professors. When a question arises, I want to know that I’m going to see them and be able to talk to them about it.”

Learning Opportunities in the Field

Though there were certainly challenges and frustrations felt by block 2 students in the field, there were also learning opportunities that students in previous semesters did not experience. Virtual and hybrid learning situations required students to be creative and use technology that was never a part of their instruction in the past.

Creativity, Flexibility, and Adaptability

Creativity, flexibility, and adaptability were words that were repeated throughout students’ reflections and interviews when describing their cooperating teachers. In an environment where Covid-19 protocols and information seemed to be ever-changing, teachers needed to adapt quickly. Overwhelmingly, the pre-service teachers wrote of their cooperating teachers’ abilities to adapt to whatever situation was thrown at them and they learned that they too would need to adapt to new situations, sometimes with very little notice. In previous semesters, they often met disruptions to the course syllabus with grumbles and a fair amount of complaining, but this block 2 group was different and seemed to have a greater sense of resiliency. As one student explained, “One of the greatest traits a teacher needs to have is being flexible and able to adapt to changing situations. I believe the pandemic has forced us to do this and that…ultimately it is an advantage.” As these block 2 students had not been in the field pre-pandemic, they seemed more resilient and adaptable to roll with the changes that were a huge part of the spring of 2021.

Creativity was another hallmark of 2021. In the field, pre-service teachers were required to reach students online, face-to-face, and in hybrid situations. It was a huge task to deliver engaging instruction in those circumstances and to be

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successful, they quickly learned that they needed to be creative. As stated in a pre-service teacher’s reflection, “It's been beneficial to see the creative ways educators have turned an awful situation into something good. I was able to watch my teacher do a Zoom meeting with online students incorporating games, music, and fun learning activities.” Watching their cooperating teachers find creative ways to motivate their students resulted in pre-service teachers upping their creative game as well. In viewing block 2 lesson plans, students integrated more technology and in more creative ways with brain breaks, dancing sessions, social-emotional learning opportunities, music, children’s literature, and theatrical play.


Another advantage that can be credited to the pandemic was students’increased comfort level with integrating technology. From Padlets and Go React to online blogs and Zoom sessions, pre-service teachers integrated technology into all aspects of their instruction–which was a departure from what I as a professor noticed from past semesters when technology integration was typically thought of as an add-on or an isolated activity. Within pre-service teachers’ placements, every elementary student now had a Chromebook–whether at home learning virtually or in a face-to-face classroom setting. Elementary students could no longer share supplies and were expected to complete assignments using their Chromebook and then submit them virtually, which was a change from the pencil/paper assignments of the past. As a result, pre-service teachers became adept at finding online resources to help students work as a group virtually or to be interactive without moving around the room because of the need to remain socially distant. As one pre-service teacher wrote in his lesson reflection, “One of the advantages of being a teacher during Covid is that I’m learning how to use the technology needed to teach virtually. Now I can lead a Zoom meeting, design a virtual lesson, and I'm comfortable infusing technology.”


As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, preservice teachers faced a unique set of circumstances. In our program, the block 2 students had a variety of experiences: a)

classrooms that were 100% face-to-face, b) classrooms that were 100% online, and c) hybrid models of face-to-face and online learners. Classrooms with any type of face-to-face interaction required social distancing and facemasks. Covid-19 exposures meant quarantining for a minimum of 10 days. Overall, becoming a teacher during a global pandemic led the pre-service teachers to truly witness how flexible and adaptable a classroom teacher must be. While we hope we will not always be living through ever-changing Covid-19 protocols, teachers being asked to make changes and quickly adapt to new requirements is a constant in the profession–made more visible by a global pandemic (Wu, Pierce, & Price, 2020). In addition to increased flexibility and adaptability, block-2 pre-service teachers noted an increase in their knowledge of integrating technology into instruction in meaningful ways. Though meaningful integration of technology was a huge success for our pre-service teachers (and our program), one disadvantage all students noted was the lack of connection they felt with their elementary students and college professors. Students, whether at the college or elementary level, need to feel that their teachers care. This was hard to convey through Zoom or while socially distancing with face masks on. The human interaction of a smile, a pat on the back, or even a smirk was needed and greatly missed during this time.

Teacher education programs need to capitalize on gains made in technology integration and pre-service teachers’willingness to be flexible and adaptable to change, while also problem solve alternate ways to form meaningful relationships between teachers and students. Perhaps within our teacher education programs, there could be more of a focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to connect with students–both at the college level and in k12 classrooms (Murphy, Cook, & Fallon, 2021). SEL could easily be integrated into online learning situations and can be as simple as letting students select an emoji, describing how they feel, and then allowing them to briefly go into breakout rooms to discuss their feelings. It could also be more involved and include selecting multicultural children’s literature and students creating lessons they feel meet the

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needs of their students.Additionally, as educators, we know that changes in curriculum, state standards, delivery methods, and materials are inevitable. Ateacher’s ability to be flexible and adapt to those changes is key. Covid-19 provided our pre-service teachers with the opportunity to be flexible and adaptable to realworld changes with a sense of immediacy. As teacher educators, we should take the lessons learned and incorporate them into our course instruction and assignments. For example, we could simulate a fire drill and lessons getting pushed back or request students to make sameday changes to lessons (with our support) when their elementary students are struggling with concepts being taught. I believe that educators no longer want to see a perfect lesson; we want to see pre-service teachers who are resilient and creative and can adapt to better meet their student’s needs and I believe our pre-service teachers would like to see the same from their university professors/instructors.


Brown, S. (2020). Teaching science methods online during covid-19: Instructor’s Segue

into Online Learning. Journal for Research in Science & Mathematics Education, 24(3), 14-18.

Charmaz, K. (2000). Grounded theory objectivist and constructivist methods. In N.K.

Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 273-285).

Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Glaser, B.G. & Strauss, A. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research: Chicago, Aldine Publishing Company.

Kahn, L.L., & Williams, M. (2021). Modeling flexibility for middle level teacher candidates during the Covid-19 pandemic. Current Issues in Middle Level Education. 25(2). 28-34.

Mundy-Henderson, C.A., & Martin, C. (2020). Online language arts instruction in an elementary methods course: successes and challenges. Teaching/Writing: The Journal of Writing Teacher Education. 9(1). 1-3.

Murphy, K.M, Cook,A.L., & Fallon, L.M. (2021). Mixed reality simulations for socialemotional learning. Kappan. 102(6). 3037.

Strauss, A.L. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newberry Park: CA, Sage.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. (2019). COVID19 Educational Disruption and Response. Retrieved May 16, 2021, from sponse/ Wagner, C.J. (2021). PK-5 teacher perspectives on the design of remote teaching:17 Navigating Field Experiences During Covid-19 pedagogies and support structures to sustain student learning online. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 54(1) 132-147. 888340.

Wu, S.C, Pearce, E., & Price, C.J. (2020). Creating virtual engagement for pre-service teachers in a science methods course in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Journal for Research in Science and Mathematics Education. 24(3). 38-44.

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About theAuthor

Dr. Charlotte Mundy-Henderson worked as an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a Professor of Practice at Tulane University, prior to joining the faculty at Columbus State University. Her current research interests are in-service and preservice teacher education, particularly in high-poverty schools, K-6 literacy, and children’s literature. Her teaching experiences include grades 2-5 in public schools and undergraduate through doctoral level courses in higher education.

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Is Lecture a Four-Letter Word? A Study of Graduate Educators’ Perspectives on Lecture as an Instructional

Method in Social Studies

Nearly 30 years ago, Alison King (1993) coined the phrase “from sage on the stage to guide on the side” in her study on the benefits of promoting student-centered instruction (p. 30). Her major findings highlighted that student engagement in active learning experiences can help them “to think for themselves to move away from the reproduction of knowledge toward the production of knowledge and [help] them become critical thinkers and creative problem solvers so that they can deal effectively with the challenges of the twenty-first century” (King, 1993, p. 35). In order to foster these skills, which are critical for proficiency in social studies, teachers are encouraged to move away from “the outdated model of education through which teachers transmit factual knowledge to students via lectures and textbooks” (Saavedra & Opfer, 2012, p. 8). Despite these calls for constructivist approaches to foster higher-order thinking and inquirybased learning, Russell (2010) notes that a majority of social studies teachers “are more inclined to passive learning” through lecture-based instruction (p. 70). While lecture itself is not an inherently detrimental instructional method, there is a chasm between research-based advocacy for student-centered instruction and social studies teachers’ preference to lecture “as a

most effective teaching strategy” (Bollinger & Warren, 2007, p. 81).

Research Questions and Purpose of Study

Lecture has long been a contested instructional method in social studies education since the Progressive Era. Among the concerns with lecture are whether teacher transmission of information to students adequately prepared young people for active citizenship and learning basic historical knowledge (Bolinger & Warren, 2007; Henke, 2019; Perrotta & Bohan, 2018). Compounding this problem with lecture and student learning is that many pre-service teachers and in-service educators enrolled in graduate school are entering the profession during the COVID-19 pandemic where the shifts to online teaching ignited widespread concern about student engagement and achievement. As scholarship grows on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teacher preparation (Panther et al., 2021) and social studies education (Journell, 2022), there is a need to examine the perspectives of pre-service and in-service teachers who are enrolled in teacher preparation programs about lecture as an instructional method, and whether the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how and why they make pedagogical decisions to lecture. Therefore, the following questions that frame this study are as follows:

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1. What are the perspectives of pre-and in-service social studies teachers who are enrolled in a graduate teacher preparation program about lecture as an instructional method in social studies?

2. Did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the views of pre-and in-service social studies teachers who are enrolled in a graduate teacher preparation program about lecture as an instructional method in social studies?

The purpose of this study is to examine the views of in-service and pre-service teachers who are in a graduate teacher preparation program about lecture as an instructional method in social studies. Moreover, we seek to find whether the COVID-19 pandemic impacted these teacher education students’ decisions to lecture, particularly when schools shifted to emergency remote teaching. Gaining understandings of pre-service and graduate teacher education students’ perspectives of lecture is critical if colleges of education are going to effectively support teacher preparation and pedagogy in social studies during and after this pandemic.

Literature Review

The following literature review highlights the definition of lecture, the benefits and concerns with lecture, and the impact of COVID-19 on social studies instruction. Existing scholarship is outlined in order to demonstrate how this study can contribute to the growing body of research on how preservice and in-service social studies teachers can make wise pedagogical decisions with regard to the implementation of lecture for social studies instruction in online, hybrid, and in-person settings.

Definition of Lecture

There are debates over the exact definition and purpose of lecture. Assanova (2018) defined lecture as “a teaching method that involves, primarily, an oral presentation given by an instructor to

a body of long as there is an authoritative figure (in any given context) at the front of a room, delivering a speech to a crowd of listeners” (p. 14). Kuntz (2019) argues that lecture may be more effective than constructivist methods, saying “‘small group work’ha[s] become something of a pedagogical reflex utilized as a matter of course without much thought and that the lecture, though often maligned as the province of stodgy professors of old, could be a creative and engaging teaching device” (p. 27). Overall, Kuntz andAssanova define lecture as a traditional instructional style that is planned out thoughtfully that can lead to powerful learning among an audience of listeners.

Conversely, there are definitions of lecture that emphasize the need for dynamic interactions between teachers and students. Stacy (2009) defines interactive lecture as the use of “problem-centered, comparative, and thesis-driven lessons [that allow] the teacher to present the factual framework essential to analyzing the historical record and [demand] that students actively engage the material in the process” (p. 278). Active and experiential learning opportunities like debates, role-playing exercises, and use of digital documents and documentary films can be paired with lecture to promote engagement (Vess, 2005; Luckhardt, 2014; Lane, 2014; Gregory, 2013). Interactive lecture derives from constructivist approaches that focus on the process and product of student learning. With these premises in mind, we define lecture for this study as an example of direct instruction where teachers engage in formal teachertalk as a means to convey information to students. We acknowledge that lecture can be implemented either from a behaviorist or constructivist approach. However, we seek to find whether students in a graduate college of education can make these distinctions with how and why they lecture,

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especially due to the shifts to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benefits of Lecture

Much of social studies content lends readily to narrative delivery, which has long been established as an effective medium for learning (Lindgren & McDaniel, 2012) Lindgren and McDaniel (2012) noted that narrative storytelling coupled with student agency improved the online learning experience for college students over classrooms that did not use these methods. When used in social studies, narrative can be included in lecture to invite engagement and allow teachers to cover a large amount of content. For example, Russell (2010) argued, “covering the content with the lecture method is a convenient way to disseminate large amounts of content information in a limited time frame” (p. 65). The efficiency of lecture plays a role in whether a teacher chooses to lecture. In a study conducted by Oleson & Hora (2013), 49% of educators who chose the lecture method reported that they did so according to the experiences they had with their teachers who lectured, which conjured up “memories [that] constituted a repertoire of knowledge about teaching that they actively drew upon” (p. 9). Consequently, having experienced many lectures as students, teachers may find learning to implement a lecture to be an easier process than it is to learn how to deliver instruction in ways that they have not experienced.

Another benefit of lecture is the potential for teachers to exude enthusiasm about their content area in a way that can be retained and effectively utilized by students (Alazzi & Chiodo, 2008). Singer (2010) stated that conventional formal lecturing where a teacher speaks, and students record notes can be an effective approach when educators choose an interesting topic and clearly communicate skills and goals to students in an engaging manner. As a result,

lecture can optimize student learning of course content and maximize engagement of both learners and teachers simultaneously at high levels. Gregory (2013) contended that while passive lectures can prove dull, active lecturing emphasizes shifts from students to engaged metacognitive learners. Moreover, Hadie et al. (2016) found that lecturing afforded teachers the ability to actively motivate students by delivering guidelines and contexts for lessons that challenged students’beliefs. Hadie et al. (2016) also determined that the lecturing method was effective for moderating intrinsic cognitive loads when teachers monitored their interaction with students between ‘chunks’of information and students’prior knowledge.

Concerns with Lecture

Despite the benefits of lecture, constructivists and critical theorists have expressed concerns with this instructional method when teaching social studies. First, the definition of lecture is often conflated with direct instruction. According to Stockard et al. (2018), direct instruction is “a broad set of educational programs that incorporate systematic or explicit instruction” (p. 480). Direct instruction is grounded in the belief that all students are capable of learning, and that “learning is most efficient when the examples are carefully chosen and designed. They must be as unambiguous as possible, sequenced to promote the correct inference for learning a new concept, and involve the fewest possible steps to induce learning” (Stockard et al., 2018, p. 480). Examples of direct instruction include demonstrations, modeling, and lecture. Direct instructional techniques tend to have a behaviorist orientation that are focused on student outcomes (Larson & Keiper, 2013). Hence, lecture is a type of direct instruction that teachers can implement.

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Second, meaningful technology integration is a challenge with the use of lecture. PowerPoint and other presentation technologies constitute the most frequently used technological enhancements used in lecture (Baker et al., 2018). However, evidence suggests that although students might feel like an instructor using PowerPoint is delivering a more organized lecture that helps sustain their attention, this perception does not equate to improved cognitive learning (Baker et al., 2018).As a result, overuse of PowerPoints, notetaking, and memorization during a teacher’s lecture can lead students to devalue the content, hence being disengaged (Busey & Russell, 2016).

Third, concerns with teaching to state standardized tests pose challenges for why teachers choose to predominately lecture for social studies instruction. Standardized tests tend to require students to reproduce factual information they have learned over the year, which can encourage teachers to implement lecture as an efficient way to cover large amounts of content (Bolinger & Warren, 2007). Since student performance on these tests is part of school and teacher evaluations, broader instructional and curricular goals of social studies such as historical inquiry, decision-making, critical thinking skills, and analysis of historical sources may be neglected (Bolinger & Warren, 2007). Consequently, the influence of testing leads to didactic coverage of the content and limits student-centered practices that develop the broader goals of social studies education (Jang, 2019; Deslauriers et al., 2019; Thomas & Howell, 2012; Bolinger & Warren, 2007).

Finally, equity and representation concerns arise when lecture is the primary instructional method in social studies. Reliance on textbooks when lecturing often focuses on White male perspectives and leaves many students’identities absent from

the curriculum (Sleeter, 2011; Pezone, 2010; Loewen, 1995). Teachers may attempt to address this gap by including the perspectives of marginalized groups and people in the lecture. However, lecture still places heavy emphasis on the teacher as a content expert and relies heavily on oral language as the primary medium for instruction. As student populations become increasingly diverse, students speaking other languages and dialects, such asAfrican American Vernacular English or Spanish, become more prevalent in classrooms. Ultimately, Singer (2010) asserts that when students learn social studies content mainly via lecture, “they learn that some people’s ideas are not valued” (p. 3). Consequently, teachers must find differentiated pedagogical methods that convey content that is representative of the diverse needs, backgrounds, histories, and cultural assets of students (Muhammad, 2020).

Teaching Social Studies Online and the COVID-19 Pandemic Research on the impact of social studies education since the COVID-19 pandemic began is rapidly growing. For example, Kaden’s (2020) study found that the majority of one teacher’s remote workload was comprised of 1) facilitating synchronous instruction on webconferencing tools, 2) recording class sessions, 3) organizing students in breakout rooms for small group instruction, 4) grading student work, and 5) facilitating discussion about course content and other issues stemming from the pandemic. Specific to social studies instruction, Ferlazzo (2020) highlights five social studies teachers’experiences teaching online during school building closures, who noted that they tried to adhere to familiar routines by facilitating discussion on current events, checking in with students who may be feeling isolated, and using web-based tools

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such as Flocabulary and BrainPOP. Consequently, this study aims to contribute further scholarly insights into how social studies teachers made decisions about which instructional strategies they used, particularly lecture, while engaging in virtual instruction due to COVID-19 school closures.

Theoretical Framework

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) (2016) powerful and authentic social studies framework was implemented as the theoretical framework for this study. In alignment with the NCSS (2013) College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, powerful and authentic social studies hinges upon teaching and learning that is meaningful, integrative, value-based, challenging, and active. Specifically for middle and secondary pre-service and inservice teachers, powerful and authentic social studies involves:

1. Meaningful curriculum that builds upon networks of knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes that are “structured around enduring understandings, essential questions, important ideas, and goals” that connect to career preparedness, technology, and reflective teaching and planning (p.180)

2. Integrated curriculum that combines the social studies disciplines, as well as “effective use of technology, communication, and reading/writing skills” inclusive of multiple primary and secondary sources that depict diverse perspectives and opportunities for problem-solving and civic engagement (p. 181).

3. Value-based curriculum that is centered around a commitment to “justice, equality, and freedom of thought and speech” through classroom practice where students engage in critical thinking and decision-making when

deliberating problems and issues (p. 181).

4. Challenging curriculum that provides opportunities for students to be “exposed to information that includes conflicting perspectives on controversial issues” that fosters “critical, creative, and ethical thinking on problems faced by citizens and leaders” (p. 182).

5. Active curriculum that is both “handson” and “minds-on” that “develop and/or expand repertoires of engaging, thoughtful teaching strategies for lessons that allow students to analyze content in a variety of learning modes” (p. 182). According to the NCSS national standards for the preparation of social studies teachers, educator preparation programs are called upon to “design experiences that help candidates recognize how subject matter, students, and contexts influence each other in the interest of preparing youth to assess and work against barriers and challenges that impede democratic life” (Cuenca et al., 2018, p. 8). As a result, examination of inservice and pre-service social studies teachers’perspectives on lecture as an instructional method through the application of the NCSS (2016) powerful and authentic social studies framework may contribute to this growing body of research on how teachers make pedagogical decisions that best promote engaged learning in social studies, particularly when instruction shifted to online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methodology, Data Collection and Analysis

Case study methodology was chosen for this research. Acase study is “a detailed examination of one setting…or one particular event” in order to glean new understandings about real-world situations (Bogdan & Biklen, 2006, p. 59). Specific to educational research, conducting

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case study methodology can “enhance our understandings of contexts, communities, and individuals” (Hamilton & CorbettWhittier, 2012, p. 3). Given the novel circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic caused in teaching and education, case study methodology was implemented in order to examine pre-service and in-service middle and secondary social studies teachers’ perspectives on lecture as an instructional method, and if this pandemic had any impact on how they chose instructional methods when teaching in in-person, online, or hybrid formats.

Several data collection and analysis protocols were employed in this study. First, we created a survey-on-Survey Monkey that was organized into two sections. One section contained 16 questions with a Likert Scale asking participants whether they agreed or disagreed on statements pertaining to lecture as an effective instructional technique when teaching social studies, and their beliefs on whether COVID-19 impacted their views on lecture in online or in-person settings (Appendix A). Another section included open-ended questions that asked participants to expand upon their definitions and views of lecture and whether the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their decisions to lecture when teaching social studies.

Second, we asked participants to participate in focus group sessions about their perspectives on lecture as an instructional method, and their experiences teaching or preparing to teach, social studies during the COVID-19 pandemic (Appendix B). Additional follow-up questions were posed to participants who wanted to share more about their perspectives on lecture. Upon analyzing these data, follow-up interviews with participants were conducted in order to clarify their responses with regard to how and why they made pedagogical decisions when opting to

lecture. Third, findings were triangulated by analyzing notes from the focus group session and follow-up interviews, survey responses, and participants’work samples in order to identify any patterns or themes that align with the theoretical framework with regard to participants’knowledge of students, content, and contexts where they teach when making pedagogical decisions to lecture.

Four major themes emerged from the data analysis. These themes include participants’1) experiences as students on their decision to lecture, 2) views on students’reading abilities and prior knowledge of social studies on their decision to lecture, 3) expectations of their school districts and this college of education when choosing instructional methods, and 4) beliefs on lecture when teaching in online and hybrid formats due to COVID-19 school closures. Themes were organized in alignment with the NCSS (2016) powerful and authentic social studies framework by examining participants’definitions of lecture and social studies, their views on the effectiveness, benefits, and limitations of lecture as related to knowledge of students, and their beliefs about how online teaching due to COVID-19 impacted their decision to lecture or implement other methods of instruction.

Study Site and Participants

There were eight participants in this study who were enrolled in a middle and secondary Master of Teaching program at a private, four-year university located in the Southeast. Students who are enrolled in this program have earned a bachelor’s degree in a content area and are seeking teacher certification. Some students work in public schools on provisional licenses or in private schools. There are students who are not inservice teachers. All students must complete field observations, practicum, and student teaching experiences to graduate. There

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were three male and five female participants who self-identified asAfrican American, White, biracial, and Latinx. The students were self-identified as being between the ages of 22 and 30. Some students were career changers after working in the private industry for several years. Other participants recently finished their undergraduate degrees. Participants in this study were enrolled in a middle and secondary social studies methods course during the Spring 2021 semester. During this time, in-person attendance at this university was optional. Some participants taught or completed field observations virtually and some worked and observed in hybrid or online settings.

Researchers’ Subjectivities

The subjectivities of researchers impact how the data in this study is collected, analyzed, and disseminated. The first author is an assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education with an emphasis on social studies instruction. She is a former middle school social studies teacher and taught undergraduate history courses at various colleges. Although she learned constructivist pedagogies in her undergraduate and graduate teacher education programs, she employed lecture methodologies when she taught social studies and history. She previously conducted a study to explore the extent active learning or teacher-centered instruction impacted student engagement in undergraduate history courses and found that a mix of lecture and active learning strategies best impacted engagement (Perrotta & Bohan, 2013). She was also the instructor for the social studies methods course in which the study participants were enrolled.

The second author is a current middlegrades instructional coach working primarily with social studies teachers. Her work as an instructional coach emphasizes using self-

reflection, student observations, and student responses to teaching strategies to help teachers move toward student-centered and culturally responsive pedagogies in their classrooms. The third author is a current doctoral candidate and high school social studies educator with a focus on critical and culturally responsive pedagogy. He formerly taught middle school social studies and has conducted professional development lectures on culturally responsive teaching. His current research involves deconstructing the dominant narrative by using critical and culturally responsive pedagogical interventions (Apple, 1978; Freire, 1970; James & Amato, 2013). Consequently, maintaining complete objectivity in this study is not possible.


Several findings emerged with regard to pre-service and in-service teachers’ perspectives on lecture as an instructional method when teaching middle and secondary social studies. These findings are organized to provide important insights about how their decision to lecture aligns with the goals of the NCSS (2016) powerful and authentic social studies framework with regard to how pre-service and in-service teachers make pedagogical decisions when choosing to lecture when teaching middle and secondary social studies.

Definitions of Social Studies and the Decision to Lecture

In order to gauge how participants defined lecture, students were asked to explain their views of the goals and purpose of social studies education. Doppen (2007) noted that pre-service teachers needed to gain a “clear understanding of their own philosophy of social studies make a meaningful connection with the methods they use to teach their subject” (p. 61). Among the participants’perceptions on the purpose of social studies included “to prepare students to be functioning citizens in

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their post-secondary education” and to support students in becoming adults who are “model citizens” who “make informed decisions to vote and use their voice” (Field Notes, May 2021). Additionally, participants shared that they believed that the purpose of social studies is to “teach kids the foundation of human interaction and to explain how the world works,” to be able to “comprehend one’s own history and culture and that of others” and “to teach the rights and duties of citizenship” through “logic reasoning, civic understanding, economic understanding, and the ability to contextualize histories” (Field Notes, May 2021). These sentiments highlight participants’cognizance of how the goal of teaching social studies should extend beyond what is formally assessed in school, and how content can be applied to participate in democratic and civic life.

Next, participants were asked to provide their definitions of lecture as an instructional method. Responses included, “at the base level, [lecture is] content-based instruction given verbally to students; it is enhanced by PowerPoints, slideshows, media and guided notes,” “distribution of information from teacher to student,” “Guiding an [sic] student through content by providing context and support,” “Direct instruction from the teacher to the students,” “teaching standing in front of a classroom with a PowerPoint for 30 minutes to give information,” and “lecture plus–discussion, think-pair-share, breaking up the monotony of me speaking at them for 20-30 minutes” (Field Notes, April 2021). All of these definitions emphasized the role of the teacher in conveying information to students through verbal communication with some student participation. These definitions also highlight some of the teachers’use of technology to enhance lectures based on their understanding of the needs of their students. Overall, the majority of

participants defined lecture in the traditional sense that focused on teacher transmission of information to students. Subsequently, respondents were asked to explain why they chose to lecture when teaching social studies. One participant noted, “once students are given the opportunity to express an interest in social studies; it’s usually due to them having an engaging teacher that has made it interesting for them, while connecting to something important in their lives” (Field Notes, April 2021). Another respondent noted that a “healthy balance” of lecture with other instructional methods is a way to get students to “buy in” to learning content (Field Notes, May 2021). Two participants mentioned that as undergraduate history majors, they were taught via the lecture method; one participant stated that they “Lean on the ways we were taught–PowerPoints, notes” (Field Notes, May 2021). Moreover, one respondent highlighted the issue of being a new teacher, stating “it was easier to just lecture. It was a crutch” (Field Notes, April 2021). Ultimately, the participants’decision to lecture was influenced by their familiarity with the method due to their previous experiences as students in history courses and their beliefs that lecture could function as a means to spark student interest in social studies content.

Views on Benefits and Limitations of Lecture

Participants discussed their views on the benefits and limitations of lecture as an instructional method. According to the survey, 71.43% of respondents reported that they believed lecture was pedagogically appropriate and effective for teaching their students social studies. As stated by one participant, lecture is a method in which teachers “get to show students what they need to know…[by getting] to the point” (Field Notes, May 2021). Another

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participant said, “Lecture is an effective tool if delivering content in a specific manner, and in a way that students understand. It also allows for quick-response feedback if students are not understanding the material” (Field Notes, April 2021). One respondent shared that lecture “is part of how to deliver content to students as a healthy balance” with preparing students for standardized tests (Field Notes, May 2021). These statements highlight the belief among preservice and in-service teachers that lecture was an instructional method best suited to meet the needs of their students in learning content, preparing for standardized tests. When asked about how lecture meets the needs of students, some participants remarked that lecture was beneficial because their formal talks were “interactive and engaging…[and] culturally relevant” (Field Notes, April 2021). For example, one respondent stated:

I try to bring in something students are interested in like stories that they are likely to discuss and make relevant comparisons in terms of a lot of historical things we deal with. When it comes to history, students often just listen and listen and listen instead of having conversation. We need to open up dialogue where learning occurs on a higher level (Filed Notes, April 2021).

Another participant remarked, “lecture works when you have the connection with the students and when you are able to make an association that they are able to comprehend” (Field Notes, April 2021). Moreover, respondents noted that lectures that were accompanied by videos, visuals, and notetaking supports such as graphic organizers can bolster engagement and

provide “immediate remediation” if students need assistance with grasping content and skills in a lesson (Field Notes,April 2021). These responses show that participants believed lecture was an effective method due to their rapport with students and their ability to facilitate discussion with technology that included enhanced presentations and notetaking supports. Although mentioned, participants did not divulge how they used their knowledge of students’interests, backgrounds, or other assets to design and deliver lectures that were culturally relevant to the lives and experiential knowledge of their students.

Another reason why participants indicated that lecture was an effective instructional strategy was to support students’reading abilities and social studies content knowledge. One respondent, who teaches in a high-poverty area with struggling readers, stated: We need to give students the lesson first. I respect the school’s expectation for small groups, but sometimes lecturing gives kids confidence that the teacher knows what they are talking about. Lecturing gives students a chance to ask questions

about misconceptions, and it gives the teacher a chance to give context, especially in social studies.

Furthermore, this same participant noted: If I don’t explain the context of thelesson, or we don’t have that dialogue then the context gets lost in the shuffle… It’s hard if I don’t help students make that connection. And the only way that I feel I can do that is teaching in a way

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that involves lecture (Field Notes, April 2021).

Overall, this participant expressed that they use lecture as an instructional technique so that they can “meet their [students’] needs [with] what they best respond to,” particularly with regard to students’reading levels and challenges with accessibility to instructional resources when completing assignments in school and at home (Field Notes, April 2021). Although these sentiments could be interpreted as this participant having a deficit view of their students, this in-service teacher clarified their response, stating that their students often do not have books or internet access at home, hence putting pressure on them to provide explanations of content information so that students can complete assignments outside of school. Still, these comments call into question whether students from lowincome backgrounds receive equitable opportunities to engage in active learning as compared to students from higher-income backgrounds.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Decision to Lecture

Nearly 100% of the participants responded that the pandemic impacted their perspectives on lecture as an instructional method in social studies. Fifty-seven percent of participants indicated that they taught social studies online at the start of the pandemic, 28.57% reported that they continued to teach online since the pandemic began, and 85.72% of students noted that they taught in a hybrid format since the start of the pandemic. While participants highlighted the potential benefits to lecture as an instructional method, respondents distinguished differences between lecturing in-person versus online since the COVID-19 pandemic. One participant shared, “I would assume that lecture is not as well utilized in the midst of the pandemic.As a student traditional style lecture is almost useless on

a digital format, as it is not as engaging” (Field Notes, April 2021). Another participant highlighted the impact of “Zoom fatigue,” noting “lecture is still necessary to cover particularly challenging content areas (i.e., slavery, the Holocaust, Civil Rights Movement, etc.), but lecture-fatigue is drastically sped up when lecture is delivered via a Google Meet” (Field Notes, April 2021). Moreover, one respondent noted that lecture was “necessary” in online formats because “It [is] rather difficult to establish any classroom culture or ‘withitness’ without it [lecture] in my opinion” (Field Notes, April 2021).

Another issue participants raised with regard to lecturing in online contexts involved trying to elicit student participation. Functional issues with cameras and microphones when teaching via web conferencing applications made discussion stilted and challenging. One participant shared, “With all the technology, it’s harder to lecture over the computer. I struggle to interject during discussion online, and online is harder to unmute, ask if anyone hears me, harder to lecture” (Field Notes,April 2021). Furthermore, another respondent stated: Since the Covid pandemic, I couldn’t really figure out how to implement my typical faceto-face learning methods in the virtual classroom. So naturally, I went back to my crutch which is lecturing. Lecturing was not engaging because students often don’t have their cameras on, and they would only talk via chat. You really don’t know what they are doing on the other side of the camera (Field Notes, April 2021). These participants revealed that they continued to lecture because they

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struggled with fostering engagement while learning new technologies and logistics when shifting their in-person instructional methods to online settings.

Conversely, some participants found that they did not lecture as frequently with teaching online. One participant stated that they gave more asynchronous work with online quizzes and videos because they “can count on one hand the number of assignments students have turned in this year” (Field Notes,April 2021). Due to the lack of assignment submission, this respondent “gravitated away from lecturing” because of attendance issues and logistics with regard to students turn[ing] their cameras on and off, and mute (Field Notes, May 2021). Another respondent stated that they would “rather use more lecture when they are in the building” as opposed to teaching online and hybrid formats because they would not have to troubleshoot technological issues with student connectivity (Field Notes,April 2021).

These data suggest that these graduate teacher educators were split with regard to whether the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their views on lecture. Some participants avoided lecture by implementing more asynchronous work while teaching online due to the challenges they faced with technology issues, and lack of engagement and participation from students. However, some participants chose to lecture while teaching online because the method was familiar for them to deliver content efficiently, hence ensuring that they covered material that students needed to know. The participants’decision to lecture was not predicated upon their goal of directly promoting ambitious teaching but adjusting to teaching virtually due to COVID-19 school closures.

Follow Up

Follow-up interviews were conducted with some participants during the Fall 2021

semester (Appendix D). Two participants provided additional feedback on their decision to lecture since their school districts reverted back to in-person teaching for the 2021-2022 school year. With regard to whether their views on lecture changed since the Spring 2021 semester, one participant noted that “my views on lecture are still consistent, however, it has been easier, and I believe more effective, to facilitate lecture in a face-to-face environment. Having students in person has helped to keep students engaged and more opportunities to assess learning (Field Notes, November 30, 2021). Another participant stated, “Since I have returned to face-to-face teaching fully, I have shortened my lecture to under fifteen minutes…this leaves more time to actively engage with my students. Some of these engaging activities include Socratic [sic] seminars, class, discussions, and quiz competitions” (Field Notes, November 15, 2021).

Furthermore, when asked about their frequency of lectures during this current school year, one participant shared that they “made the executive decision to cut my lectures down to fifteen minutes because I feel as if students need more interaction. Students have struggled with mental health, after being trapped inside the home for so long. I felt that the only way to counteract that was to have kids moving and socializing as much as possible” (Field Notes, November 15, 2021). Conversely, the other respondent stated that they are lecturing more as opposed to when they taught online because “it is easier to hold the attention and engagement of my students when we are in person- versus if we are in a virtual environment. Last semester it was nearly impossible to engage even 75% of the class during a lecture for various reasons. Some of these include having cameras off, not being home during school instruction, and background disturbances” (Field Notes,

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November 30, 2021). Clearly, these participants held different perspectives on the frequency and implementation of lecture upon returning to face-to-face instruction due to their students’levels of participation and progress during virtual school during the previous school year.

Both participants noted that their school administrations, who preferred more student-centered instructional methods for in-person teaching, understood that lecture is a teaching strategy that is frequently used by teachers for a myriad of pedagogical and health reasons. For example, one participant highlighted, “when first returning to the building in August-September…all teachers

I know were nervous about being close to so many different populations of students or classes, afraid of using hands-on resources because of the spread of germs…a lot of my colleagues and sometimes myself included just felt it was overall safer and easier to deliver instruction by lecture” (Field Notes, November 30, 2021).As a result, both participants emphasized that they want to try different “instructional approaches” that meets the needs of students in order to remediate the “limitations that we faced as virtual teachers and the [decline in] performance from students” (Field Notes, November 15, 2021).


Overall, these findings suggest that inservice and pre-service middle and secondary social studies teachers lecture because of 1) their familiarity with the instructional method from their experiences as students, 2) the efficiency of the method due to the breadth and depth of the social studies curriculum, and 3) the adjustment to teaching in online or hybrid formats due to the pandemic. However, there was a disconnect between the participants’ decision to lecture as a means to meet the needs of students, and their intentional use of their knowledge of students’prior

knowledge to connect content to real-world situations. Consequently, while the participants’decisions to lecture may be based on their beliefs that they are meeting the needs of students and the expectations of administrators, this data does not show evidence that these pre-service and inservice teachers were engaging in powerful and authentic social studies instruction through the implementation of lecture when using technology in face-to-face, hybrid, or online formats.

Limitations and Implications for Future Research

There were limitations to this study. First, the participant pool was small and was a sample of convenience. Additionally, the first author was the instructor of the methods course participants were enrolled. Consequently, issues of the reliability of responses to the survey and focus group questions could be skewed due to the dynamics of revealing their perspectives on lecture as a teaching method. Future studies should include more participants who are not acquainted with the researcher in order to further verify the reliability of the data collection instrumentation and analysis procedures (Stebbins, 2001). An increased participant pool would provide more data that may strengthen this study with regard to why disconnects exist between pre-service and in-service teachers’knowledge of content, students, and contexts where they teach and their decisions to implement lecture as an instructional method that promotes critical thinking and engaged learning.

Second, another limitation of this study was the lack of pre-service teachers who participated in the study. One pre-service teacher expressed hesitancy to lecture during their student teaching experience due to the fact this college of education emphasizes constructivist teaching. They stated:

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As a student, I take notes while the teacher talks, but I’m conflicted because research shows students learn from each other. With a lecture, students may not want to ask a question but might be more honest with each other. This program is centered around constructivist theory, and I feel like I shouldn’t do it (Field Notes, April 2021). Consequently, there is a need for further studies that focus on how social studies methods courses and fieldwork experiences can include more opportunities for preservice teachers to learn best practices for planning lectures. Including lecture as a pedagogical technique in these courses may support pre-service teachers’development into ambitious teachers who appropriately choose pedagogies based on their knowledge of the subject matter and the needs of students.

Athird limitation of this study was that the participants’perspectives on lecture were self-reported and to an extent, based on assumptions about what students needed. Some respondents noted that students expected lecture, which highlights Grant and Gradwell’s (2009) assertion that students get bored and comfortable with “doing school” in a manner that does not challenge them (p. 20). Participants may have conflated students’“need” for lecture as their “want” of lecture in order to passively receive what they were expected to know in social studies class. In order to analyze these expectations and assumptions more critically, further studies need to be conducted on middle and secondary students’perspectives on learning social studies, particularly via lecture, in order to gain greater insights into how learners perceive which instructional methods promote engagement. Such insights could foster greater selfreflection among pre-service and in-service

teachers when applying their knowledge of content, students, and contexts of where they teach when they plan their social studies instruction.

Fourth, the lack of probing questions about participants’knowledge of content, students, and contexts pertaining to the pandemic, the social justice protests in 2020, and debates concerning history and civics education is a limitation of this study. The participant who spoke about lecturing in order to meet the remedial needs of their students also explained that they teach in an area that experienced protests after a police shooting of an unarmed Black man. Most recently, disputes over teaching Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools can potentially present social studies teachers with constraints with regard to implementing ambitious teaching methods, albeit with or without lecture (O’Kane, 2021).As a result, future scholarship must focus on how the NCSS’(2016) powerful and authentic framework can be integrated into social studies teacher preparation with the NCSS (2013) C3 Framework InquiryArc Future studies that examine how the implementation of the C3 Framework could highlight how pre-service and in-service teachers’beliefs about the goals of social studies education align with the pedagogical decisions they make when choosing to lecture in online, hybrid, or in-person settings.


The pre-service and in-service teachers in this study did not perceive lecture as a dreaded “four-letter word” when reflecting upon how and why they choose instructional methods for teaching social studies.

Participants believed that lecture could be one of many instructional methods they could employ to foster those goals. As a result, continued research on how lecture can be part of the pedagogical conversation among colleges of education, school

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districts, and professional development facilitators to promote powerful and authentic social studies education is needed, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, and eventually subsides.


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Gregory, J. L. (2013). Lecture is not a Dirty Word, How to UseActive Lecture to Increase Student Engagement. International Journal of Higher Education 24(4), 116-122.

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Survey: Graduate Teacher Educators’ Perspectives on Lecture as a Teaching Method in Social Studies during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Part I

Directions: Choose the response that best reflects your answers to each statement.

A. Strongly Agree B. Agree C. Neither Agree or Disagree D. Disagree E. Strongly Disagree

1. Lecturing is an effective method to teach social studies content

2. Lecturing is an effective strategy to teach social studies standards

3. Lecturing is an effective instructional method to promote student engagement in social studies

4.Lecturing is enhanced with slide presentations (i.e., Power Point)

5. Student note taking during lecture promotes student engagement in social studies

6. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted my perspectives on lecture as an effective strategy to teach social studies

7. I taught social studies online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

8. I have been teaching in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic

9.I have been teaching online only since the COVID-19 pandemic

10. I have been teaching in a hybrid format (both online and face to face) since the COVID-19 pandemic

11. I have been lecturing when I teach social studies since the COVID-19 pandemic

12. I took online classes as a student in middle school and/or high school

13. I took online classes as an undergraduate student in college

14. I took online classes in graduate school prior to the COVID-19 pandemic

15. I took online classes in graduate school since the COVID-19 pandemic

16. I feel comfortable using technology when teaching social studies since the COVID-19 pandemic

Part II

Directions: Please respond to each question in as many complete sentences as possible.

17. How do you characterize ‘lecture?’

18. Approximately what percentage of class time on average do you spend lecturing?

19. What strategies, if any, do you use in the remainder of your class time?

20. What have been your experiences using lecture as a social studies teaching method prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?

21. What have been your experiences using lecture as a social studies teaching method since the COVID-19 pandemic?

22. Do you think your students benefit from lecture as a social studies teaching method? Explain why or why not.

23. What other information or thoughts would you like to share?

Part III: Demographics (Optional)

Directions: Please respond to following:

Gender Identification:

Racial Identification:


Grade level and content area taught and years teaching:

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Are you interested in participating in a follow-up interview?

Appendix B

Focus Group Session Questions

1. Tell us about the settings where you teach. How does the context, community, demographics, etc. that you teach impact how you make decisions when choosing instructional methods in social studies?

2. What are your overall thoughts about lecture as a teaching method for social studies?

3. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted and/or changed your views on lecture as a social studies teaching method?

4. What do you need to support your social studies teaching in the virtual setting during this pandemic?

5. What do you need to support your social studies teaching in the face-to-face setting during this pandemic?

7. What else would you like to share?

Appendix C

Follow-Up Interview Questions

1. What is the goal of social studies?

2. Do you think lecture supports your beliefs in how and why we teach social studies?

3. What are benefits of lecture? Can you tell me what you think the benefits of lecture?

4. What skills do you think students gain or learn from lecture?

5. Do you believe you are expected to lecture? If so, by whom?

6. Do you think there is a disconnect between what your college of education and your district expects, versus what your expectations?

7. Do you think that the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to online teaching impacted your decision or your expectation to lecture?

8. Have these decisions or expectations changed if you went back to in-person and/or hybrid teaching?

Appendix D

Additional Follow-Up Questions

1. Since we last spoke during the Spring 2021 semester, did you go back to teaching in-person, online, or hybrid (both online and in-person instruction)?

2. Since starting the 2021-2022 school year, have your views on lecture changed since we last spoke during the spring 2021 semester? If so, how? If not, why?

3. Do you find that you are lecturing the same amount as opposed to last school year? If so, how come? If more or less frequently, why?

4. Do you find that COVID-19 protocols at your school are impacting whether or not you are choosing lecture as an instructional method where you teach? Why or why not?

5. Do you find that the expectations of you to lecture are the same, more, or less since we last spoke during the spring 2021 semester? Why or why not?

Is there anything else you would like to share with me to follow up on the lecture study you participated in during the spring 2021 semester?

About theAuthors

Dr. Katherine Perrotta is anAssistant Professor of Middle Grades and Secondary Education at Mercer University Tift College of Education and a former middle school social studies teacher in the New York City Department of Education. Her research on historical empathy, social studies teaching methods, and pre-service and in-service social studies teacher professional

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development have been published in leading journals such as The Journal of Social Studies Research, Social Studies Research and Practice, Social Education, Middle level Learning The Social Studies, Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, Educational Studies, and The American Educational History Journal

EricaAdela Warren is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at Mercer University Tift College of Education. She has 13 years of experience working in middle school as a teacher and instructional coach. Ms. Warren studies middle schools and how to engage teachers in addressing assumptions that underly curriculum designs that dehumanize adolescents and erase their experiences.

Michael Champion is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at Mercer University Tift College of Education. He is a high school social studies educator, and social studies professional coordinator with a focus in critical and culturally relevant pedagogy. Mr. Champion’s current research involves deconstructing the dominant narrative by using critical and culturally relevant pedagogical interventions.

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“Why Do I Have to Do This?”: Strategically Connecting Course Content toAuthentic Contexts Beyond the Classroom

Frequently, educators hear questions from their students, such as, “Why do we have to do this?” or “When will I ever use this in the real world?” Questions such as these are legitimate and should be of utmost importance to educators at all levels because it directly addresses the relevancy of their course content. Educators should know and be able to communicate the “real world beyond the classroom” value of course content to their students. This paper describes systematic and deliberate approaches used by six faculty members at a regional, four-year university to promote authentic learning which educators can easily adapt and implement in a variety of educational contexts to help bridge the authenticity gap between theory and practice.

Contexts Beyond the Classroom

Erin and her son,Austin, were engaged in a discussion at dinner one evening about his high school coursework. Austin blurted out that the work he had been tasked to complete held no real life purpose and posed the question, “Why do I have to do this?”As an educator and parent, this question resonated clearly. She started thinking about how educators help students to bridge the

gap between the need to learn academic content and the applied, authentic “realworld beyond the classroom” value of that content. In other words, she questioned how she deliberately assisted her students in visualizing the relevancy of her course content. Frequently, students in both P-12 and higher education classrooms pose the legitimate question presented byAustin–and rightfully so This question prompted discussion among the authors of this paper, regarding how we, as course instructors, create authentic connections between our course content and our students’lives beyond the classroom

The Value of Authentic Learning

What does it mean to be authentic in the context of learning experiences? On the most basic level, if something is authentic, it is real. In a classroom context, authentic activities are those that have some connection to content and experiences that are real beyond the walls of the classroom. Chen et al. (2013) presented a variety of characteristics that portray authentic tasks such as having “real-world relevance, illdefined problems, sustained investigations, multiple perspectives, collaboration,

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reflection, interdisciplinary perspectives, integrated assessment polished products, and multiple interpretations” (p. 173). Authentic activities promote the connection between the acquisition of content in a real-world situation which promotes creative thinking, critical thinking, and/or problem-solving skills (Essop, 2020). Wiggins (1990) described authentic tasks in the context of assessment. He asserted that these tasks are “ill-structured” because they help students “rehearse for the ‘game’of adult and professional life” (p. 1). Resnick (1987) described significant differences between “school” learning and learning outside of the school context, noting the frequent disconnect between classroom learning and social experiences and learning outside of the classroom which, frequently, require a great deal of cognitive resources.

In short, authentic learning activities are deliberately planned experiences that promote higher-order thinking while connecting course content to life beyond the classroom. Resnick (1987) stated, “There is growing evidence, then, that not only may schooling not contribute in a direct and obvious way to performance outside school, but also that knowledge acquired outside school is not always used to support inschool learning” (p. 15). As educators, it is important to help our students bridge the gap between classroom and life experiences.

In consideration of motivation, authentic activities and learning experiences have great potential to inspire students to desire to engage in tasks that bridge the course-life connection gap. The expectancy-value theory of motivation is predicated on bringing value to tasks (Ormrod & Jones, 2018). Specifically, utility value is important in authentic learning experiences in which students are able to connect tasks to be

completed as part of coursework to usefulness as pertinent to their future goals (Sherman, 2017). Additionally, Hattie (2012), asserted that learning should be visible to students, to help them value learning–to be motivated to engage in lifelong learning (p. 1).

LikeAustin, students often ask the question, “Why do I have to do this?” On August 29, 2020, the website, Edutopia, shared a quotation by educator Howie Hua on their social media page. Hua (2020) stated, “To prevent giving out busywork, write down the purpose of the assignment, and if you aren’t 100% convinced about that purpose, consider reassigning it.” Hua’s (2020) statement speaks directly to the question, “Why do I have to do this?” Ultimately, it addresses the value of course content in authentic settings.

As educators in a teacher preparation program, it is our desire that our pre-service teacher candidates strategically and deliberately plan and facilitate instructional activities with authentic contexts for their own future students. In order for our candidates to be able to do this, they need to see it in action; therefore, we strive to bridge the gap through our practice, modeling a variety of strategies to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

InvestigatingAuthentic Learning Opportunities in Coursework

Educators make purposeful and deliberate decisions when planning for instruction. After informal conversations as a result of Erin’s conversation with Austin, we (the researchers, or the first six authors) decided to investigate how we each deliberately incorporate authentic learning activities in our own courses. Therefore, this study sought to answer the question, “How

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do you incorporate authentic learning within your own courses?”

This study took place at Auburn University at Montgomery where all researchers were employed and teaching, at the time. The six researchers, who also served as participants, were selected based on two criteria: service in the same department and background in childhood education. While each served in very different roles, including early childhood education faculty, foundations of education faculty, reading faculty, intern supervisors/coordinators, and/or director of the “Early Learning Center” on campus, we each shared similarities in teaching experience.

In order to answer the question posed by this study, first, an informal conversation took place. Then, via email, each author provided a vignette that outlined a context and strategy used to promote authentic learning.

After data was collected, the principal author hand-coded each vignette using open coding, then compared the codes in search of commonalities and differences (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007; Yin, 2016). Following the initial analysis process, themes were created, and connections were made to the literature.

Voices from the Classroom: ACollection of Vignettes

Drawing upon their classroom instruction and supervision experience of pre-service teachers, the authors offered the following practical vignettes and experiences detailing how each brings authenticity to their course content.

Gilbert: Incorporation of “Real World” Experiences

Why do our classrooms emphasize book knowledge? More specifically, why is there a wall between what we learn in our

classroom and what we have already learned at home and in our neighborhood? Why is it not possible for our children to learn about the diverse, cultural experiences that each child brings into the classroom? As an educator of 17 years, I have come to realize that real children with real lives and diverse life experiences occupy our classrooms across the United States. To heal the difference felt between the real world of each child and school knowledge, I believe that each child’s life story, imagination, and unspoken dream need to be the centerpiece of what is learned in educational spaces. We must celebrate every child who enters our respective classroom; we must champion children’s unabridged ideas that naturally emerge from classroom discourse. In my third year as an elementary school teacher, a child uttered, “Mr. Dueñas, why do you so often say, you believe in us? You do not even know where we live or what we do when we are not at school.” That child’s poignant question made me realize that children accord greater credence to what I say when I have come to know, understand, and authentically value their true selves. When I became an elementary school teacher in 2004, I came across Christensen and Karp’s (2003) publication: Rethinking School Reform: Views from the Classroom. Late at night or early in the morning, I reflected on each page of this publication and found a passage that to this day has guided my classroom pedagogy: “Ateacher cannot build a community of learners unless the voices and lives of the students are an integral part of the curriculum” (p. 61). Each successive year as an educator has given me the privilege to learn from my students’ questions, ideas, and hopes for a better world. Morris Massey (1976) once said, “What you are is where you were when.”

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This truism has guided my commitment as an educator to be real for my students, more importantly, to know more about their real lives.

Tami: Student Input on Learning Opportunities

One basic strategy I use originated in the elementary classroom with the annual, beginning of the school year, parent meetings. When I taught third grade, I posed the following question in written form to the parents in my room on Open House Night at the beginning of the year. I asked parents to tell me (in writing) what they hoped their child would receive from being in my classroom during the upcoming school year. I encouraged them to list multiple expectations in the order of importance as seen through their eyes as a parent This was invaluable to me in clarifying expectations and helping me understand where parents stood in their view of that particular grade level’s requirements and benchmarks, as well as social and behavioral expectations This valuable information helped me convey to parents a more realistic view of developmentally appropriate academic, social, and emotional expectations for their child during that specific year of school Asking parents for input before the year begins signals that the teacher is open to parent feedback and clarification concerning expectations associated with the school year. Communication between parent and teacher allows time to share and fully explain assignments and activities, enabling parents to see how these expectations are closely linked to the overall learning goals for the year.

I use this same strategy in the college classroom by asking my students during the first class meeting to write down what they

hoped to gain from taking my course. Once again, this allows me to align my students’ expectations with my professorial instructional practices. There are times when a student enrolls in a class thinking the course objective will follow a particular direction; however, once I address my students’misconceptions and uncertainties and fully explain the aim of the course, they feel more at ease. I feel a communication strategy that clarifies student concerns and questions empowers all participants in a college class to value the relevance of academic content with their life experiences. This type of clarification also encourages my reflection on assignments, class activities, and fieldwork to accomplish that clear course goal.

Laura: Story-Telling to Construct Meaning

Aphrase I often use when explaining assignments is “Let me tell you a story…” I use personal stories and experiences, textbook examples, and even current (or semi-current) news stories to tie the connection between the assignment and the real world. I have found students enjoy hearing real-life experiences, as many can relate and will volunteer their own personal stories or examples, as well.

While explaining the guidelines and rubric for an upcoming assignment on Culture and Diversity, I heard some groans from the students. I decided to pause for a moment and then ask them a simple question, “Do any of you know about Mongolian spots?” No one raised their hand or spoke up to answer, so I proceeded to tell them the story of how I had a young student in my class of Korean descent who had what appeared to be bruises all over his back.At first glance, it would seem as though he had been abused. However, because I did

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research for my Culture and Diversity project in college, I remembered that young children of Asian descent often have birthmarks, which appear blue, then fade as they get older, called “Mongolian spots.” The story generated several shocked faces and the connection seemed to make sense to them. Students began to ask questions, and several wanted to share their own experiences in similar situations. I had to end the discussion, simply because we were running out of time in class, but I expressed how exciting it would be to resume the conversation once everyone had time to complete the Culture and Diversity assignment. The simple, personal vignette from my experience helped my students to see the authentic value in completing the work.

Shelly: You Want Us to Do What?

As a graduate assistant teacher standing in front of my first undergraduate class, the student in the back of our classroom literally shouted out, “You want us to do what?” I had heard about Total Quality Management (TQM) at a teacher workshop and wanted to implement strategies from it for this course. Deming’s (1986) proposition of TQM was new. In his TQM work, Bonstingl (1992) focused on four principles to incorporate when applying TQM in the academic setting These include working together for the good of the group, constant development through reflection, acknowledging learning as a process, and combined leadership. These four strategies promote active participation for everyone involved, which in turn, enables communication between students and teachers to have results that are more prosperous. Additionally, TQM acknowledges the improvements, not necessarily the perfections.

My idea was to ask college students for their input on our syllabus. Instead of me, in my role as a teacher, assigning all points for assignments, I left all points blank. I wanted my college students to feel empowered by coming together to assign points for their assignments.

Because they had never been asked to be a part of this process, this student, and the others in my class, expressed their concern as to “what to do.”After an explanation on my part, students quickly embraced the TQM strategy and ultimately came up with the same points I had wanted to be generated, too, for each assignment.

As a former kindergarten teacher and now college professor, I have found that TQM can be implemented at any age/grade. Empowerment through TQM is truly relevant for students and teachers.

Erin: Background and Purpose Statements

In an effort to help teacher candidates transfer knowledge from an academic context to an authentic context beyond my college classroom, I include overt background and purpose statements on my assignments, which are, largely, performance assessments couched in a context representative of scenarios they will encounter in their own classrooms. The background statement is reflective of skills or concepts that students have been studying or learning about in the course. Purpose statements define why candidates are tasked with an assignment and provide an overt connection to why they need to know, understand, and apply the content knowledge to their profession. For example, in my Principles of Teaching course, I facilitate a unit on classroom and behavior management. For the culminating project of this unit, candidates construct a management

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plan, which can ultimately be adapted for their own classroom. The background and purpose statements on the assignment are: Background: Positive classroom management is essential to an effective learning environment. This includes all of the procedural, management tasks you and your students will use to keep the classroom running as smoothly as possible. Discipline, or behavior, management refers to expectations, or rules, you will use to promote positive interactions.

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to consider procedures, expectations, and consequences (both positive and negative) you might use in your classroom These things should connect, in some way, to your vision and philosophy statement, as your beliefs will (or should) influence your management plan.

Frequently, I discuss the Background and Purpose statements in class with students, drawing specific attention to them or, if the course is an online class, I explain the statements in a brief discussion of the assignment. Constructing and drawing attention to these direct statements helps students to create a connection between the course activity and their own lives beyond the walls of our university in a highly personalized manner.

Kelli: Strategic Reflection

Pre-service teachers in the final internship phase complete a weekly reflection on three prompts: “What are some observations and/or experiences you had this week?”, “What are some opinions or reactions you had this week?” and “What questions do you have?” These questions encourage pre-service teachers to ponder all aspects of the teaching profession, possible struggles they have encountered, and/or personal anxieties that might arise. The preservice teachers send me their reflections for feedback, which, as noted in Dumlao and Pinatacan’s (2019) study, is important to facilitate change.

This activity encourages pre-service teachers to evaluate personal and professional challenges that might arise in the teaching profession. It is imperative for teachers to reflect upon observations, lessons, and communication with students, parents, and peers in order to grow as professional educators. Adding this assignment during the student internship phase might foster an intrinsic desire to continue self-reflection as they transition to full-time educators.

Each of the anecdotes above represents an example of how we facilitate learning experiences, bringing authenticity and value to the content of our courses.

What Does This Mean?

As each vignette was coded and analyzed, it became apparent that three major themes emerged from the data: reflection, communication, and diversity in experiences. Each of the themes which emerged connected to the characteristics of authentic learning activities, as noted by Chen et al. (2013). Furthermore, these themes presented in unique ways even among the six researchers and authors of this study.

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All six researchers and authors noted the use of reflection as part of authentic learning experiences. The reflective practice took place in two forms: the part of the course instructor and the part of the student. For example, as a result of commentary from students, Gilbert spent a great deal of time reflecting on how he could incorporate his students’lives beyond the classroom into his coursework and Tami reflected on her students’expectations or desired course learning to help her guide instruction. Conversely, Kelli facilitated reflection among her students based on their realworld internship experiences, while Shelly asked her students to reflect collectively on the authentic course content they wished to be evaluated upon in practice. Without question, reflection has been a long-standing practice in teacher preparation programs and promotes growth–in both teaching and learning contexts (Etscheidt et al., 2012; Mills, et al., 2020). As connected to Kelli’s use of reflection, Dumlao and Pinatacan (2019) discussed the value of pre-service teachers’use of reflective writing, particularly during student teaching internships. Findings from their study suggest, “Reflective journal writing was an encouraging tool for their professional development, critical thinking, and evaluating their daily performances” (p. 469). The authors expressed the importance of implementing a reflective assignment during student teaching, as it facilitated preservice teachers’development of professional knowledge. In each context noted, reflection was used to promote authentic learning from either the instructor’s or student’s perspective. Communication

In all vignettes, communication, or collaboration (Chen et al., 2013), was a key aspect of bringing authenticity to learning experiences. Gilbert, Tami, and Shelly relied on student input to guide learning and instructional activities. Drawing upon students’experiences beyond the classroom, they were able to deliberately plan to incorporate elements of unique experiences into meaningful activities. Kelli relied upon communication through reflection to help students truly connect experiences in clinical experiences to content learned throughout the coursework. Laura helped her students construct authentic connections by communicating true stories of her own content connections. Abrahamson (2011) described that people learn through storytelling. Though he noted that some instructors are uncomfortable with sharing personal experiences, he stated that students connect with real, concrete experiences in a way that helps to bring course content to life. Erin communicated clear statements on assignments to make overt connections between her course content and experiences beyond the classroom that were authentic in nature. McTighe and Brown (2004) described research conducted by Newmann et al. (2001), in which they defined authentic intellectual activity as experiences that “produce discourse, products, or performances that have value beyond school” (p. 29). Each researcher in this study sought to do that through communication in various forms.

Diversity in Experience

In authentic learning, consideration is given to diverse learning experiences reflective of life beyond the classroom (Chen et al., 2013; Resnick, 1987; Wiggins, 1990). Four of the six authors referenced an acknowledgment of diverse needs beyond

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content, based on their vignettes. Gilbert brought authenticity to his class through home life, whereas Tami, Laura, and Erin connected with authenticity through professional contexts and work scenarios, mainly, addressing classroom application of content within the teacher preparation courses. McTighe and Brown (2004) indicated that students should “be expected to apply knowledge and skills in meaningful tasks within authentic contexts” (p. 27), which is precisely what took place in the above anecdotes.

Adapting for Implementation

Based on these stories, how might educators in a variety of courses adapt the strategies noted for their own use? Below, we offer considerations as a plan for adaptation and use.

Step 1: Deliberately ConsiderAudience and Purpose

Just as we each did in our own unique way, consider who is being taught and what value students should take from the learning activity. McTighe and Brown (2020) indicated that planning should start with determining desired results of lessons and with that, the value of content should be included. Consider diverse experiences and bring that into instructional planning and facilitation. As planning takes place, ask, “Why is this important to my students’lives and how can they use this in the world beyond my classroom?”

Step 2: Communicate!

Communication takes place in many forms, from collaboration with instructors and peers to feedback to questioning and many more ways. Be prepared to communicate the value of content and authentic learning exercises explicitly, to students. Overtly, help students to visualize this value through story-telling or explicit

statements on tasks. Incorporate their experiences into learning activities and assessments. Ask what they would like to take from the learning and how it will help them as developing professionals beyond the course context.

Step 3: Provide the Time Needed to Truly Learn and Reflect on Learning!

As instructors, sometimes, it is easy to move quickly through content and activities because we have a great deal of it to address in a finite period of time. However, authentic learning takes time, and time is needed for multiple opportunities to practice (Chen et al., 2013; Hattie, 2009). Reflection is key at this time as it is an excellent venue to examine strengths in learning and opportunities for growth.


By deliberately considering our students’ experiences in strategic planning to facilitate connections between theory and practice, instructors are better equipped to help students construct those connections. Then, students are able to clearly understand why they need to learn specific content or complete designated activities and how they will use it in their lives beyond the classroom. Through this process, the question “Why do I have to do this?” becomes the informed statement, “I understand why I have to do this.” When students understand why something is important, they are better able to make connections with the content. Finally, when students make strong connections between coursework and life beyond school, they are able to truly learn and apply information to authentic scenarios, then reflect on those experiences, which should help them construct the precise answer to the question, “Why do I have to do this?”


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Abrahamson, C. (2011). Methodologies for motivating student learning through personal connections. Public Policy Online, 2011(3), 1-14.

Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2007). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods (5th ed.). Pearson.

Bonstingl, J. J. (1992). The quality revolution in education. Educational Leadership, 50(3), 4-9.

Chen, G. D., Nurkhamid, Wang, C. Y., Yang, S. H., Lu, W. Y., & Chang, C. K. (2013). Digital learning playground: Supporting authentic learning experiences in the classroom. Interactive Learning Environments, 21(2), 172-183. DOI 10.1080/10494820.2012.705856

Christensen, L., & Karp, S. (2003). Rethinking school reform: Views from the classroom. Rethinking Schools, Ltd.

Demings, W. E. (1986). Out of the crisis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study.

Dumlao, R. P., & Pinatacan, J. R. (2019). From practice to writing: Using reflective journal instruction in enhancing preservice teachers’professional development. International Journal of Instruction, 12(4), 459–478.

Essop, M. F. (2020). Implementation of an authentic learning exercise in a postgraduate physiology classroom setting. Advances in Physiology Education, 44(3), 496-500.

Etscheidt, S., Curran, C., & Sawyer, C. (2012). Promoting reflection in teacher preparation programs: Amultilevel model. Teacher Education and Special Education, 35(1), 7-26. DOI: 10.1177/0888406411420887

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses related to achievement. Routledge.

Hua, H. [@howie_hua]. (2020, August 29). I made it to Edutopia. [Tweet]. Twitter. 9858004125253632?lang=en

Massey, M. (1976). What you are is where you were when: The original [Film]. Enterprise Media.

McTighe, J., & Brown, P. (2020). Standards are not curriculum: Using understanding by design to make the standards come alive. Science and Children, 58(1), 76-81.

Mills, A. M., Weaver, J. C., Bertelsen, C. D., & Dziak, E. T. (2020). Take pause in quiet moments: Engaging in reflection to guide instruction. The Reading Teacher, 74(1), 71-78. DOI:10.1002/trtr.1915.

Newmann, F. M., Bryk,A., & Nagaoka, J. (2001). Authentic intellectual work and standardized tests: Conflict or coexistence? Improving Chicago Schools, 1–41.

Ormrod, J. E., & Jones, B. (2018). Essentials of educational psychology: Big ideas to guide effective teaching (5th ed.), Pearson.

Resnick, L. (1987). Learning in school and out. Educational Researcher, 16(9), 1320.

Sherman, W. (2017). Framing unschooling using theories of motivation. Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning, 11(22), 76-99.

Wiggins, G. (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation, 2(2), 1-4.

Yin, R. K. (2016). Qualitative research from start to finish (2nd ed.). The Guilford Press.

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course called Foundations of Education: Educational Psychology. She has the unique opportunity to work with a diverse group of students and seeks opportunities to engage in research that is meaningful for all of them.

About theAuthors

Erin F. Klash is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Auburn University at Montgomery. Research interests related to this topic include instructional strategies educators use to facilitate positive, effective learning environments in K-12 and higher education classrooms.

Gilbert Dueñas is a Professor in the College of Education at Auburn University at Montgomery. Research interests include exploring the effects of Hispanic household and cultural heritage on children’s out-ofschool mathematics and literacy learning.

Shelly H. Bowden is a Professor in the College of Education at Auburn University at Montgomery. Her research interests concerning the subject include empowering students and teachers as stakeholders of their own learning in academic classrooms.

Tami Shelley is anAssociate Professor in the College of Education at Auburn University at Montgomery. Research interests related to this topic include preservice teacher preparation and purposeful learning experiences.

Laura Wildman is the Director of the Early Learning Center within the College of Education at Auburn University at Montgomery. While she supervises college students completing field experience hours in the center, she also teachers a college

Kelli Smith is currently a 3rd grade teacher at Helena Intermediate School in Shelby County Schools. Research interests include building positive teacher-student relationships, using self-reflection as a tool to facilitate change, and reading instruction.

Austin B. Klash is a sophomore in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University majoring in finance. Research interests include investment and market analysis.

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Jekyll Island Club and Resort

October 12-13


Enlightening, Investing, and Reclaiming Power in Adversarial Times

Deadline for submissions June 1st


Jekyll Island Club and Resort Reservations number: 1-888-445-3179

Be sure to tell the reservationist that you are a part of the GATE Georgia Teachers Education group block to receive the group rate!

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Age 8

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Is Lecture a Four-Letter Word? A Study of Graduate Educators’ Perspectives on Lecture as an Instructional

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Becoming a Teacher During a Global Pandemic: Navigating Field Experiences During Covid-19

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Thoughts from the Editors

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Letter from the President

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Reclaiming Power in Adversarial Times

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