This study argued that the purpose of social studies education is intimately connected with civic engagement. The function of civic engagement shifts in accordance with the political roles a teacher plays in the classroom (Westhaimer & Kahne, 2004). The literature review defined the possible parameters of these political roles. The research then explored how secondary social science and elementary teacher candidates, if at all, planned to address the political issue of civic engagement in education and their self-awareness as political actors. This research study aimed to expand the available body of research on this topic by exploring the perceptions of social studies teacher candidates concerning their roles in promoting civic engagement. This study conducted a survey of social science and elementary teacher candidates to qualitatively measure these perceptions. The study found that teacher candidates possessed entrenched conceptions of good citizenry but fail to connect social studies’ primary purpose of civic engagement with the promotion of good citizenry. The study also indicated teacher candidates lack sufficient civic engagement conceptual understanding and corresponding pedagogy to adequately perform their political roles as democratic gatekeepers. Consequently, the study’s educational implications were that social studies teachers’ and teacher candidates’ awareness of civic engagement in the social studies classroom is necessary to facilitate an effective, ethical, and objective education. Additionally, more attention must be given in teacher candidate education to address the political reality of the social science education profession.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Russell, William


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership

Degree Program

Social Science Education


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

May 2016