Student Perceptions of Instruction in Middle and Secondary U.S. History Classes


Today’s social studies teachers and students face an unprecedented time of standards and accountability. Students bring influences that may interact with the instructional context teachers provide for learning. U.S. history students in 8th and 11th grades (n = 512) from 11 schools (23 teachers), diverse in location, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, provided their perceptions of the instructional context. Student responses provided generally positive perceptions of class expectations, teacher support, and student effort in learning. Student reports of interest and motivation in learning U.S. history were lower. Students perceived a variety of instruction occurring in their classes with the most frequently perceived activities representing traditional instruction. There were a few grade-level differences in student responses related to some aspects of expectations, instruction, and supports for learning. Differences in perceptions among students of varying reading achievement were noted on some items, particularly related to expectations and supports for learning.


Wanzek, J., Kent, S. C., & Stillman-Spisak, S. J. (2015). Student perceptions of instruction in middle and secondary U.S. history classes. Theory & Research in Social Education, 43(4), 469–498. doi:10.1080/00933104.2015.1099488