Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Danielle Dennis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jenifer J. Schneider, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael J. Berson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.


censorship, elementary social studies, integrated curriculum, professional development, literacy instruction


The purpose of this interpretive, qualitative multi-case study (Merriam, 2001; Stake, 1995) was to describe the experiences of three elementary classroom teachers as they integrated literacy and social studies during their literacy instruction. This study was grounded in an interpretivist paradigm and a theoretical lens of symbolic interactionism. The guiding questions were: What are the experiences of three elementary teachers when integrating literacy and social studies instruction? What information do teachers use when making decisions about integrated instruction? How do teachers’ beliefs align with their practices? How do teachers organize, plan for, and provide integrated instruction, including how they use the core English/Language Arts programs and core social studies programs? In what ways, if any, do teachers use disciplinary literacy strategies to support social studies instruction? I collected data from teachers in kindergarten, third grade, and fifth grade classrooms in a K-8 Title One school. Data included audio-recorded one-on-one semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, lesson plans, photographs, and my researcher journal. I began data analysis through inductive coding of each interview and observation, and then coded each through deductive analysis using Cunningham and Allington’s (2011) pillars of effective literacy instruction. I deductively coded the data using the six proven practices for effective civic learning based on the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement (NCLCE, Guilfoile & Delander, 2014). Data analysis then moved to the crosswalk I created using the pillars of effective literacy instruction and the NCLCE proven practices. Data analysis concluded with the cross-case analysis. During the data analysis, member checks and three meetings with a peer reviewer occurred. Findings from this study indicate teachers continue to experience conflict between their beliefs and practices, often due to state, district, and school mandates. Additionally, the study findings indicate a desire for focused professional development, both face-to-face and through digital tools, on how to effectively integrate literacy and social studies. Moreover, professional development is needed to support teachers in their use of critical literacy. Findings also indicate that the teachers in this study experienced censorship, imposed by others and themselves. The study concluded with my interpretation of the findings based on the reviewed literature, suggestions for future research, and a crosswalk for professional development to support teachers in planning for effective integrated literacy and social studies instruction.

Keywords: elementary social studies, censorship, integrated curriculum, professional development, effective instruction.