Reasoning about societal problems: design and implementation of instructional approaches in social science education


Social science education helps students to make sense of structures and developments in society, analyze current societal problems (e.g. growing inequality) and think about potential solutions. The new Dutch social science examination program emphasizes development of students' ability to use central concepts and theories from the social sciences to reason about societal processes and problems. Teaching and learning this complex competency, however, is a challenging task. Not much is known about effective ways to support students and teachers.
This research focuses on the design and implementation of (educative) curriculum materials that support both student and teacher learning. First, we analyze the quality of students' reasoning to identify frequently occurring flaws and define levels of reasoning. Rubrics are constructed to help both teachers and students better understand the reasoning skills that are aimed at. Second, a design research is conducted at two schools to design and test materials and activities that promote students' reasoning. These are designed according to principles of explicit teaching, the use of authentic tasks and reasoning schemes. Third, the materials and activities will be used in a professional development program (PDP) for social science teachers. We investigate to what extent the educative curriculum materials contribute to teachers’ professional growth related to the teaching of social scientific reasoning. The materials should provide enough guidance and at the same time leave room for adaptation to meet the time teachers have, the topics they deal with and their students' needs.





Prof. dr. C.A.M. van Boxtel

Verbonden aan

Universiteit van Amsterdam, Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen, Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)


01/12/2018 tot 30/11/2021