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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How Elementary Teachers Use Classroom Mini-Economies When Guided by the C3 Framework
by Day, Stephen Harlan, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 2015, 222; 10110536
Abstract (Summary)

A mini-economy is an ongoing classroom project in which elementary school students apply for jobs, receive simulated income, go shopping at the classroom store, and ultimately create their own businesses. This study uses design-based research methodology to find out what classroom practices emerge when the College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards (C3 Framework) (National Council for the Social Studies, 2013) is used by elementary teachers as the basis for instruction in the context of a classroom mini-economy, and how analysis of those practices can be used to improve instructional design. Design-based research seeks to simultaneously create and analyze teaching materials, with the purpose of improving both the materials themselves and the research literature on which the materials are based. In this case, the goal of the teaching materials was to improve the authenticity and rigor of the teacher-participants’ classroom mini-economies. Therefore, the study draws upon research literature in Authentic Intellectual Work, as well as inquiry teaching in social studies, particularly in economic education.

Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) is a way to think about curriculum, instruction, and assessment. It seeks “to identify some kinds of intellectual work as more complex and socially or personally meaningful than others” (King, Newmann, & Carmichael, 2009). It consists of construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry, and value beyond school (Scheurman & Newmann, 1998). Inquiry teaching in social studies has taken many forms, most currently in the C3 Framework, which was the approach used in this study. The C3 Framework conceptualizes inquiry as “the disciplinary concepts and practices that support students as they develop the capacity to know, analyze, explain, and argue about interdisciplinary challenges in our social world” (National Council for the Social Studies, 2013, p. 6). Classroom mini-economies in particular fall within the realm of the social science of economics, so the study pays special attention to the literature on K-12 economic education.

The study reveals ways in which teachers were able to use the C3 Framework to build authenticity in the mini-economy, though it also reveals that teachers were willing to dilute the quality of the inquiry process when it fit with their larger goals. The findings suggest that inquiry as conceived in the C3 Framework can be used as a powerful tool for equipping students for an increasingly complex social world. However, the inquiry process is at its best when lesson materials that use it are carefully designed to meet teachers’ desires to provide interdisciplinary and real-world experiences for their students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lee, John K.
School: North Carolina State University
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 77/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Elementary education, Social studies education, Curriculum development
Keywords: College, Career, and Civic Life, Economic education, Mini-economy
Publication Number: 10110536
ISBN: 978-1-339-73781-2
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