This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Examination of Factors Affecting the Acceptance of Innovative Social Studies Curriculum Materials




Farmer, Charles

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


Although many studies have been conducted that analyze social studies curricula, there is a need for further investigation into the dynamics of social studies curriculum reform projects. This should facilitate an enhanced understanding of how to engage in effective curriculum reform in the future. The principal focus of such research should be on curricula that were developed in eras which offer materials that provide alternative learning opportunities to that of most materials of the day. In order for curriculum developers to understand how prior curriculum reformers made decisions regarding their rationale and purposes for creating materials in light of the social, political and economic influences of the time period, research data must be compiled and made accessible. If these influences are comprehended by future curriculum developers, it could afford better collaboration among all educational stakeholders in the production of curriculum materials. This study examines what factors might explain why some innovative curriculum materials gained wider acceptance in social studies classrooms than other innovative curriculum materials. Additionally, the implications of the history of curriculum reform on contemporary curriculum development are addressed. The study was completed by analyzing, structurally and critically, four curricula as critical cases using a set of guiding questions and a heuristic created in conjunction with this research. The four data sets are: the Harold Rugg’s Social Science Course, the Amherst Project, the Harvard Project, and the Teachers’ Curriculum Institute’s History Alive! series. Not only were the curriculum sets researched individually, but a comparative analysis of the structural and critical components of the four curricula was also completed. While there were distinctions between each of the four critical cases, the final analysis suggests that the overarching themes of social studies highlighted in the heuristic are shared by three of the four critical cases.