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Did it count?: Preservice teachers’ reflections on teaching with primary sources

Deborah Lynn Morowski (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)
Theresa M. McCormick (Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)

Social Studies Research and Practice

ISSN: 1933-5415

Article publication date: 20 November 2017




During field experiences, preservice teachers often are asked plan and teach a lesson and then to reflect on their teaching. The purpose of this paper is to examine the guided reflections of 66 preservice teachers after they planned and implemented a primary source-based lesson in an elementary classroom. The project occurred during the preservice teachers’ enrollment in a social studies methods course.


This qualitative study utilized a fieldwork approach as the methodological framework. This approach provided data that allowed the researchers to develop a deeper understanding of the preservice teachers’ experiences. Data were analyzed using Bogdan and Biklen’s (1998) content unit of analysis. Descriptive and interpretive coding schemes were used to analyze data using a priori categories of successes and challenges.


The preservice teachers were able to engage in technical and practical reflection, considering strategies used in the classroom and their effects on student learning, but they were unable to reflect at the critical level, thinking about moral and ethical decisions. The themes and subthemes that many of the preservice teachers identified as successes, others identified as challenges.


This study highlights the importance of preservice teachers engaging with primary sources, as well as with frequent, meaningful, and ongoing field experiences. Teacher educators need to provide multiple opportunities for teacher candidates to reflect broadly and deeply on their teaching practice and student learning. Additional research needs to be conducted to assess the impact of preservice teachers use of primary sources in the elementary classroom.



Morowski, D.L. and McCormick, T.M. (2017), "Did it count?: Preservice teachers’ reflections on teaching with primary sources", Social Studies Research and Practice, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 280-294.



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