Worldview construction: International relations concepts embedded in elementary social studies textbooks

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

First Committee Member

Bruce Michael Bagley - Committee Chair


Early civic education is crucial for worldview formation compatible with living in an increasingly interdependent world. In U.S. public schools, social studies is the locus of civic education. Social studies textbooks are the container of civic subject matter, and teachers, are its transmitters. Traditionally, civic education has been linked with national identity creation. In this study, educators are challenged to stimulate a complementary cosmopolitan identity because of social, political, and economic globalization trends and transition to an Information (and instant communication) Age.Using the social constructivist perspective, a content analysis model was developed for multi-state study of elementary social studies textbook content. In this pilot study, the model was tested by applying it to one state's elementary social studies textbook series (Florida, Harcourt Brace 2002: Grades 1-5 textbooks examined; Grade 1 textbook completely analyzed; Grade 5 Teacher Questionnaire). International Relations (IR)-related concepts relevant to individual worldview construction were the focus of the analysis. Conclusions were preliminary.Textbook data collected suggested that the worldview presented is U.S. centric and focused on individual achievement and behavior, the primacy of work, life as issue- and conflict-free, and scope not depth of knowledge; the interpretation of international events is one-sided. This worldview is incompatible with contemporary interdependence and an increasingly globalized world.Teacher questionnaire data suggested that social studies textbook use is limited, not thorough, and social studies class time is dwindling. Teacher attention to IR-related issues correlated with teacher interest. Explanations for inattention included lack of time, teacher lack of knowledge about issues, and "attention to these issues is not mandated."National social studies curriculum standards include appropriate words about civic education as well as national and international issues. They present a concept-based approach to teaching and learning; however, states select their standards, local districts define details, and teachers interpret their meaning. If state standards incorporated the national standards' curriculum model for in-depth teaching and learning, and teachers were actually able to help their students meet them, the 50 million students in 93,000 U.S. public schools would more likely be exposed to IR-related concepts. Civic education as well as positive worldview formation could be enhanced.The content analysis model tested is recommended for study of other publishers' social studies series used in other states.


Anthropology, Cultural; Education, Elementary; Education, Social Sciences; Political Science, General

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