Teaching Vocabulary in High School Social Studies Classes: General Academic Terms are Overlooked

Vocabulary Instruction in High School Social Studies Classes: General Academic Terms are Overlooked

For the last 20 years, there has been almost no change in students’ measured achievement in the area of social studies in grades 4-12 (273). According to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), only 45% of American 12th graders score at or above the basic level for social studies content, as they have for decades (273). In their paper, “An investigation of high school social studies teachers’ understandings of vocabulary teaching and learning,” authors Janis Harmon et al. explain that to address this issue of academic stagnation, education standards—especially Common Core—are now emphasizing “disciplinary literacy, that is a focus on the specific literacy demands unique to the various content areas and the sub disciplines within each area” (272).

What does “trustworthy evidence” mean to students?

What Does “Trustworthy Evidence” Mean to Students?

Facebook. Instagram. 24-hour news. Twitter. Gossip. Newspapers. School. Television. Today students are bombarded with information about the world. As accessing information becomes easier, the task of determining the accuracy of information becomes increasingly difficult. What is fact? What is misleading? What is trustworthy evidence?

In their paper, “Thinking Deeply, Thinking Emotionally: How High School Students Make Sense of Evidence” authors Rebecca Jacobsen et al. explain that teachers are “increasingly being asked to prepare students to both evaluate information critically and use evidence to construct arguments” (2). These education requirements are set in national education standards, including Common Core for English Language Arts, History/Social Science, and Technical Subjects, as well as in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (2). The authors note that in the NGSS, students “engage in arguments from evidence” starting in kindergarten (2).

Jacobsen et al. remark that for these education standards, it is assumed that students know what evidence is and that all students accept and use evidence is similar ways. Previous studies have shown that this is not always the case, however.

Time spent on math and science homework linked to higher standardized test scores, but not higher grades

Time Spent on Math and Science Homework Linked to Higher Standardized Test Scores, But Not Higher Grades

The homework debate has continued in the United States for well over one hundred years. How much homework should teachers give? How should teachers assess homework (for accuracy or completion)? What is the purpose of homework? In their paper, “When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association Between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math,” authors Adam V. Maltese et al. remark that over the decades homework has been seen as a way to pull students toward academic mastery, toward educational preparation and competitiveness in increasingly globalized marketplaces. They note that, “After the Russians first sent a mission into space, there was a general feeling in America that students were under-prepared, and homework was seen as a tool to improve the educational preparation of students and ensure America’s safety and development” (53).

Studies about the time that students are required to spend on homework are inconclusive. For example, the authors note that the National Assessment of Educational Progress concluded that as of 2003, only 10-12% of students reported having two or more hours of homework per night. The National Center for Educational Statistics argued that there was an increase of students reporting two or more hours of homework each night from 7% in 1980 to 37% in 2002 (53). Although much media coverage has touted the idea that American high school students are overburdened by homework, the authors of this paper argue that, “statistics do not support the notion that a majority of high school students in the U.S. toil away on homework each evening after school…These data indicate that most of the arguments against homework, which appear in the popular media, may originate from a vocal minority” (53).