Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Roslyn Doctorow

Committee Member

Katrina Pann


education, social justice, social studies, teacher attitudes, curriculum


This applied dissertation was established with the purpose of determining what teachers at the primary level think regarding introducing or including social justice concepts in the social studies curriculum. The current social studies content lacks pertinent social justice content that is both relative and meaningful to a child’s understanding of the world around them. Although topics of race are embedded in the current social studies curriculum, the materials are vague, short, and concise. Therefore, it does not require students to critically think and grasp the essence of such valuable knowledge.

A qualitative, phenomenological design was implemented to conduct this study. The central research question that guided this study was as follows: What are the perceptions of K-2 teachers regarding the inclusion of social justice topics in social studies instruction to K-2 students? The study also explored the following supporting research questions: 1. How do K-2 teachers in a school in the southeastern United States teach social studies to young learners? 2. How do K-2 teachers describe social justice? 3. What are the experiences of K-2 teachers as they reflect upon teaching social justice? 4. Do primary teachers support the inclusion of social justice topics in the social studies curriculum? Why or why not?

Participants were teachers of students in primary grade levels. Participants were interviewed using open-ended questions. Participant responses were recorded and analyzed for common themes and differences. The following themes were identified: (a) looking for resources, (b) an opportunity to learn about the real world, (c) the issue of time and support, (d) student questions and engagement, and (e) a better world or place.

The findings of this study revealed that the participants believe social justice is relevant in the younger grades and should be included in the primary social studies curriculum. Recommendations for future research include increasing the sample size by investigating the perceptions across kindergarten through Grade 5 and recruiting participants from more than one elementary school.

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