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Student Views about Learning Math and Social Studies

Susan S. Stodolsky, Scott Salk and Barbara Glaessner
American Educational Research Journal
Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 89-116
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1162880
Page Count: 28
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Student Views about Learning Math and Social Studies
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Abstract

Math and social studies differ in the usual instructional pattern found in elementary classrooms, in the goals sought, and of course in the actual content. Based on documented differences in the two fields, we expected pupils to hold different ideas about how to learn each subject and to express different reasons for positive and negative experiences in each subject. Sixty fifth grade pupils from 11 classrooms were interviewed to explore their attitudes and conceptions about learning math and social studies. The interviews included pupils' definitions of each school subject, descriptions of typical classroom activities, probes regarding how each subject was actually learned, and descriptions of times liked and disliked in each subject. Students' conceptions and attitudes regarding math and social studies were different. Consistent with expectations, pupils characterized positive and negative experiences in math in regard to their success or ability to do the work while social studies experiences were evaluated more in terms of whether they were interesting or boring. Among other differences, more students thought they could learn social studies on their own than math.

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