Multiple Perspective in United States History: Shifting Perspectives in High School Students
AdvisorFerrara, Margaret M.
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AbstractAs secondary social studies education in the United States moves toward inquiry and constructivist models of teaching, much of the history that is taught is stuck in a fairly rigid narrative. This narrative has been written and refined by historians and high school textbook writers until the canon is homogenous across the United States (Brinkley et al., 1997; Henretta et al., 2014). The purpose of this study was to explore high school students’ reactions when presented with two plausible opposing viewpoints to a specific event. Utilizing the Johnson and Johnson (2003) method of structured academic controversy, students were studied to determine how much information would cause cognitive dissonance and a subsequent resolution of the discomfort. This study presented two opposing narratives of the reasoning behind the use of the atomic weapon in the bombing of the Japanese mainland in World War II. The sample for this study was four sections of 97 students comprising both Advanced Placement (AP) students and non-AP students. Of the original participants, 24 were selected to participate in the research portion of this study. The participants were placed into two groups, 12 AP and 12 Non-AP students. The study’s findings and resulting recommendations are that using inquiry and constructivist methods increased student interest and deeper understanding of a controversial and complex event in United States history. Further findings and recommendations are found in the findings and recommendations section of this dissertation.