Bridging STEM and the Civic Mission of Social Studies: Integrating Spatial Reasoning & Computational Thinking Into Decision-Focused Secondary Social Studies Instruction

ID: 54190 Type: Full Paper - Book (submit final version now)
  1. Thomas Hammond and Julia Oltman, Lehigh University, United States

Thursday, March 21 3:30 PM-4:00 PM Location: Wilshire B View on map

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Abstract: Social studies has faced a crisis of relevancy, particularly in the ascendance of perceived high-value fields such as STEM. Furthermore, secondary social studies has struggled to reconcile the disciplinary organization of social studies curriculum (history, geography, economics, and civics) with the central mission of social studies, citizenship preparation. We suggest a new framework for bridging both of these divides, adding value to both social studies and STEM education. From the social studies literature, we adopt Engle’s decision-focused approach to social studies education; from the emerging literature on STEM skills, we adopt spatial reasoning and computational thinking as highly relevant skills to social studies, and particularly a decision-focused approach. Illustrative examples are provided, and implications for teacher education are discussed.


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