Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

J. Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Michael J. Berson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dominic J. Puglisi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Arthur S. Shapiro, Ph.D.


Educators, Confidence, Government, Literacy, Engagement


This policy study contributed to an understanding of the types of professional growth activities that improve teacher self-confidence to teach challenging subjects and helped determine the future allocation of resources relative to teaching secondary social studies in Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS), the eighth largest school district in the United States. An important implication and result of this study consisted of a change in HCPS secondary social studies professional development policy from an emphasis on promoting literacy strategies, or reading in the content area, to a focus on improving social studies teacher content knowledge. Additionally, the study describes the culture of change in the district in an era of high-stakes testing and accountability. Research determined whether secondary social studies teachers increased their self-efficacy after participating in civic knowledge and engagement activities. Secondary social studies teachers were administered a version of Gibson & Dembo's (1984) Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) at the beginning and end of summer institutes in civics and government. A one-way analysis of variance of the TES results revealed no significant difference in teacher pre- and post-test scores. However, teacher perception of their efficacy was high and scores from a Summer Institute Satisfaction Survey clearly indicated that high school teachers welcomed the new innovative professional development opportunities afforded to them through the summer institutes. The study was conducted under the Project Educating Learners to Engage in Civics Today (ELECT) grant, the goal of which was to expand the civic knowledge of the district's students and teachers.