Inclusion of discussion concerning controversial issues has been a part of education in the United States since the advent of public education. Using an online, social media platform, the researcher investigated demographic, environmental, and personal characteristics of social science teachers to determine their willingness and comfort levels in discussing controversial issues in a social science classroom. This study of 91 participants included teachers' age, gender, race, educational history, religious and political beliefs, and the developed environment of each school to determine how teacher and school demographics influenced teachers' willingness and comfort levels discussing controversial issues in classrooms. The independent variables accounted for over 50% of the variance in the teachers' willingness and almost 60% of variance in their comfort levels discussing controversial issues. Teachers' willingness to discuss controversial issues was statistically significant for both their personal political ideology, as well as the type of secondary school (middle or high school). Concerning a teacher's comfort in discussing controversial issues, the number of years teaching, whether or not teachers taught an Advanced Placement course, if they held an education degree, if they were Caucasian or African-American, their political ideologies, and their religious identities were all significant predictors in the model. Results of this quantitative study using a multiple linear regression suggested that teachers' background influences how and what controversial topics are discussed in the classroom, a key component of socialization. The classroom, as a political space, models democratic characteristics for students, and the teaching of discussion becomes a vital part in the socialization of students for a democratic society.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
School of Teacher Education
Education; Social Science Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Bittman, Bonnie, "Social Science Teachers' Comfort Teaching a Variety of Controversial Issues" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 20.