LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD: A PHENOMENOLOGY USING STUDENT VOICE TO UNDERSTAND THE CURRENT PERCEPTION OF SOCIAL STUDIES AMONG HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS
Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, current high school seniors left elementary school experiencing less instructional time for social studies compared to other subjects. The dominance of standardized tests led students to conclude that only tested subjects are important, which excluded social studies. The purpose of this research was to listen to student voice to hear the current perception of social studies and determine what factors form those perceptions. To understand the current perception of social studies, a phenomenology was conducted using social learning theory. A student perception survey of social studies was created and administered to 111 high school seniors in a large southeastern urban high school. From those 111 students, three were selected to participate in a series of three interviews. During those interviews, it was found that two students had a positive perception of social studies with the main factors being parental influence and the use of engaging teaching methods and instructional strategies. Students cited lack of relevance as a leading factor to a negative perception of social studies. They found social studies as an important content area but held a negative perception of the individual social studies classes. Parental perception was a strong factor in forming a positive perception of social studies. Student 3 found social studies a dead subject due to the teacher bias and lack of relevance. He did not understand the purpose of taking social studies. All three students continually cited curriculum overlap between United States history and political system as a factor in a negative perception of social studies. After listening to student voice, the researcher determined that the seniors in the study viewed the content area of social studies with a positive perception but saw lack of relevance within individual social studies classes. Teachers must strive to make class engaging and use effective instructional strategies to ensure a positive perception of social studies. Further research should include curriculum overlap and teacher preparation programs to ensure teacher candidates are taught effective instructional strategies.