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Seixas, Peter. “Review of Research on Social Studies.” In Handbook of Research on Teaching, 4th Edition, edited by Virginia Richardson, 545-565. Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association, 2001.


Seixas’ review of studies on teaching and learning in the social studies curriculum across North America begins on the premise that in the previous ten years (from 1991) social studies has been absent from research scholarship on teaching and learning. Thus, this chapter does not include research on history teaching but rather “what is left over in research on teaching of the subject of social studies once research on teaching history is removed.”

First Seixas suggests that there were two important developments on research in teaching in the 1980s that highlighted the limited relationship of social studies to any particular and clear academic discipline as a problem for developing research on theory and practice in social studies. These two developments stemmed from Shulman’s 1986 study on understanding the connection between “content” and “pedagogy” as well as Armento’s 1986 study in which she suggested that more research is needed on understanding the “conceptual properties” of the discipline of social studies and the “psychological processes” of learning in social studies. Second, Seixas acknowledges that fundamental changes in conceptualizations of social and cultural knowledge such as concerns of gender, non-Eurocentric approaches, and a shift away from the metanarrative process have impacted social studies research.

Seixas addresses how it is that these fundamental changes have informed social studies research by outlining three different areas of research in which people have attempted to account for these changes in their studies. “Writing on the Meanings and Purposes of Social Studies Teaching” focuses on the literature that has grappled with the issue of defining social studies. “What do Social Studies Teachers Know and Believe?” deals with studies on factors that inform social studies teaching, and lastly “Social Studies Teachers in Classrooms and Departments” is concerned with a body of research that focuses on how teachers teach social studies.

Seixas maintains that a stronger bridge must be built between the field of social studies and academia so that the issues of power and knowledge construction can begin to inform theory and practice on the task of teaching students how to critically “read the texts that structure their lives, and write the ones that might restructure the world.”

Ana Laura Pauchulo