Building Your Own Collection of Research Data and Other Information

In promoting social studies, a number may be worth a thousand words. Research data demonstrating an approach's effectiveness or the public's support for a program can be a powerful argument for implementing or maintaining that approach or program. While more research in many areas is certainly needed, supportive data do exist. For example:

  • A 1999 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the public's attitudes toward the public schools indicated that 90 percent or more of the respondents believed that all students in public schools should be taught such values as democracy; acceptance of people of different races and ethnic backgrounds; caring for friends and family members; moral courage; and patriotism/love of country. 1
  • A 1999 U.S. Department of A 1999 U.S. Department of Education survey found that students in grades 6-12 who currently or in the prior year took a course that required them to pay attention to government, politics, or national issues were more likely than other students to watch or listen to the national news, read about national issues, or discuss national news and politics with their parents on an almost daily basis. 2

Although few social studies practitioners would have time to read all the applicable research, it is very helpful to develop a resource center of research-related information that you can draw upon when the need arises. Many districts already have such a center, which may contain everything you need or may simply require some additions -- take time to find out. A state or local social studies council is also an excellent site for a collection of research resources. A resource center doesn't not necessitate a building or even a full room; a few key journals or important information shared via newsletters would be very helpful.
With the advent of the World Wide Web, a whole universe of research information is available at your fingertips. It is worthwhile to "bookmark" your favorite research and information sources for easy access. State and local social studies councils may find it of value to post research links on their web pages.


Data on Testing
Testing data can be a very effective resource in advocating support for existing programs or arguing for new programs. Sources include:

  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nation's Report Card) -- The National Center for Education Statistics publishes test results on many subjects including civics, geography, and U.S. history. New assessments in world history and economics are scheduled to begin in 2005. National Center for Education Statistics, 1990 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006; 202/502-7300; nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard.
  • College Bound Senior Profile Report -- The College Board, which administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), annually releases summary information about the students who take the exam. The College Board, 45 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10023-6992; 212/713-8000; www.collegeboard.org.
  • Your district and state offices of education publish reports on year-end testing. Be sure you are on the mailing list to receive these reports. Remember also that any statistic can be interpreted in several ways -- don't just read the interpretations of the evaluators; examine the tables of data yourself and look for other interpretations of the evaluators; examine the tables of data yourself and look for other interpretations supportive of the social studies program or suggested improvements.


Opinion Polls
Attitudinal data can also be extremely helpful in supporting social studies. Some sources are:

  • The annual Gallup Poll of public opinion on public schools, sponsored by Phi Delta Kappa. The results are published each year in the September issue of the Kappan. Phi Delta Kappa International, 408 N. Union St., P.O. Box 789, Bloomington, IN 47402-0789; 800/766-1156; www.pdkintl.org.
  • The National Household Education Survey (NHES) is a data collection system of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) that is designed to address a wide range of education-related issues. It provides data and summary reports on the educational activities of the U.S. population, including a survey on civic involvement. National Center for Education Statistics, 1990 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006; 202/502-7300; nces.ed.gov/nhes.
  • The Metropolitan Life Survey of the American Teacher -- conducted by Louis Harris and Associates, Inc. since 1984, this survey explores teachers' opinions. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, One Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010; www.metlife.com.
  • The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey -- administered annually to college first-year students, the survey includes statistics on social activism, volunteerism, and interest in teaching careers. Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, 3005 Moore Hall-- Box 951521, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521; 310/825-1925; www.gseis.ucla.edu/heri/heri.html.
  • Local television stations and newspapers often conduct polls in the local area. Contact them to find out if results of any polls related to education are available to the public.


State Information
The following are helpful sources of information on state policy:

  • National Survey of State Requirements Course Offerings and Assessment in Social Studies -- compiled by the Council of State Social Studies Specialists (CS4). www.socialstudies.org/cs4.
  • Social Studies Standards and Curriculum -- compiled by the ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education (ERIC/ChESS). www.indiana.edu/~ssdc/stand.htm.
  • Internet Sites of the State Legislatures -- compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. www.ncsl.org/public/sitesleg.htm
  • Education Commission of the States -- has an information clearinghouse of state education policy. Education Commission of the States 707 17th St., #2700, Denver, CO 80202-3427; 303-299-3600; www.ecs.org.
  • Quality Counts -- compiled annually by the newspaper Education Week in collaboration with Pew Charitable Trusts, this annual publication is a 50-state report card on public education. www.edweek.com/sreports/.


Other Sources of Information

  • ERIC/ChESS (Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse on Social Studies/Social Science Education) -- ERIC/ChESS monitors the literature and developments in and publishes materials on the teaching and learning of social studies and social science. ERIC/ChESS, 2805 East Tenth Street, Suite 120, Bloomington, IN 47408-2698; 812/855-3838; www.indiana.edu/~ssdc/eric_chess.htm.
  • NCSS Position Statements -- The complete text of NCSS position statements is available at www.socialstudies.org/standards/positions. If you do not have access to the World Wide Web, the list may be requested from NCSS Information Services, 3501 Newark Street, NW, Washington, DC 20016; 202/966-7840, x106. information@ncss.org.
  • Professional organizations -- In addition to NCSS and your state or local social studies council, other professional organizations often can provide information. NCSS has compiled a listing of such organizations. It is available on the Web at www.socialstudies.org/resources/infoservices/
    ADDITIONALRESOURCES.html. If you do not have access to the World Wide Web, the list may be requested from NCSS Information Services (see address above).



Journals
The following is a list of journals that may be useful in beginning your resource center:

Journal of Economic Education
Heldref Publications
1319 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1802

Journal of Geography
National Council for Geographic Education
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705

New England Social Studies Bulletin
New England History Teachers Association
Lyndon State College
Waltham, MA 02154

Phi Delta Kappan
P.O. Box 789
Bloomington, IN 47402

Social Education
National Council for the Social Studies
3501 Newark Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Social Science Quarterly
University of Texas Press
P.O. Box 7819
Austin, TX 78713-7819
Social Studies
Heldref Publications
1319 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1802

Social Studies and the Young Learner
National Council for the Social Studies
3501 Newark Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Teaching of Psychology
Department of Psychology
McAlester Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211

Teaching History: A Journal of Methods
Emporia State University
Division of Social Sciences
Emporia, KS 66801

Teaching Political Science
Heldref Publications
1319 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1802

Theory and Research in Social Education
National Council for the Social Studies
College and University Faculty Assembly
3501 Newark Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Theory Into Practice
Ohio State University
College of Education
149 Arps Hall
Columbus, OH 43210

In addition, many state and local social studies councils publish journals. Each year a contact list of council journal editors is published by NCSS in "Who's Who in Social Studies: Directory of Regional, State and Local Affiliated Social Studies Organizations." Contact NCSS at 202/966-7840 to request a copy.

1 Gallup, Alec M. and Lowell C. Rose, "The 31st Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools," Phi Delta Kappan 81, 1 (September 1999), pp. 41-56.
2 U.S. Department of Education, NCES, National Household Education Survey, 1999 (Youth Interview Component).