Concept-Teaching Practices in Social Studies Classrooms: Teacher Support for Enhancing the Development of Students’ Vocabulary
İlhan İlterDepartment of Education, The University of Bayburt, Bayburt 69000 Turkey
The purpose of this study is to describe social studies teachers’ perceptions related to their practices in teaching concepts within the context of social studies instruction in order to enhance students’ vocabulary development in their classes. The study focuses on how students’ breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge is supported by teachers’ experiences and their self-reported practices in relation to teaching social studies content. The study has a qualitative research design and has been conducted with 35 middle-school social studies teachers selected in accordance with maximum variation sampling. A semi-structured interview form has been used to determine teachers’ perceptions and viewpoints, and data has been analyzed using content analysis techniques. Results show that the teachers’ espoused practices for enhancing social studies vocabulary and for assessing its overall development process supports widely accepted understanding and ideas on effective concept teaching and alternative assessment procedures. Some examples of these practices and assessment measures include interactive word-walls (ABC graffiti), contextualized vocabulary instruction, word analogy, semantic maps, vocabulary self-collection strategy, and concept circles. However, the majority of practices reported by the teachers reflect traditional tasks and methods that ignore how new concepts were acquired and also focus more on the definitional knowledge of words. Further research should include teacher observations along with interviews to validate actual classroom practices.