Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Stephen J. Thornton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Cruz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Barbara Shircliffe, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Fisk, Ph.D.


curriculum instructional gatekeeping, instructional practice, social studies education, teacher beliefs, women


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the intentions of teachers who report incorporating gender and women’s experiences into their social studies curriculum and how those intentions are manifested in the classroom. I examine how teachers talk about the purposes of social studies education, their reasons for incorporating gender and women’s experiences into their curriculum, and their descriptions of incorporation (the intended curriculum). Then, I analyze how the intended curriculum is enacted in the classroom.

Using educational connoisseurship and criticism and portraiture, I construct narrative portraits of the phenomena analyzed. Both educational connoisseurship and criticism and portraiture consider the production of knowledge a creative act; scholarship, as an act of representation, is always mediated. These narratives, culled from participant interviews and classroom observations, form the basis of my data analysis.

Findings indicate participants share similar values for social studies education, encouraging them to incorporate gender and women’s experiences into their curriculum. These values include idealistic and ameliorative views of social studies education. Participants craft a complementary curriculum expressed in the pedagogical tools they utilize, reflecting their personal values and beliefs about the purposes of education. Participants also face multiple challenges when incorporating gender and women’s experiences into their curriculum. These challenges include conflating “gender” with “women;” the encouragement of compensatory incorporation—fitting women into traditional male roles; and student resistance to nonnormative gender roles. Student resistance acts as a “diffracted curriculum” changing the shape and direction of teachers’ intended and enacted curricula.

The research suggests students respond constructively to nontraditional curriculum when mediated by discussion. Therefore, teaching pre-service and in-service teachers discussion pedagogy and encouraging their use has the potential to support student learning of gender and women’s experiences in the social studies curriculum.