To Specialize in Students or Specialize in Social Studies? A Comparative, Longitudinal Study of Two Pathways into Middle School Teaching
Hilary Gehlbach Conklin

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Georgia

Primary Discipline

Teacher Education/Teaching and Learning
Despite the critical role that middle school teachers play in advancing young adolescents’ higher order reasoning skills, their preparation is one of the most neglected areas of investigation in educational research. In this longitudinal, comparative case study, I examine the two different pathways that have been most strongly advocated for certifying middle school social studies teachers—the specialized middle school pathway and the subject-specific secondary pathway—and investigate what teachers learn from their teacher preparation programs about teaching intellectually demanding social studies in the middle grades.By studying these two pathways at one institution and following graduates into their first two years of teaching, this project will illuminate the relationship among the teacher education program opportunities, the graduates’ teaching practices, and their students’ learning. Through the use of surveys, interviews, classroom observations, document review, and student and teacher work sample analysis, this research will provide a critical analysis of the strengths and limitations of these two teacher education programs for shaping middle school social studies teachers’ practice and their students’ learning across time. In doing so, this study will provide a more informed understanding of how to prepare middle school teachers who capitalize on and further all young adolescents’ intellectual capacities.
About Hilary Gehlbach Conklin

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