To what ends? Analyzing teacher candidates’ goals and perceptions of student talk in social studies discussions

Jenni Conrad, Abby Reisman, Lightning Jay, Timothy Patterson, Joseph I. Eisman, Avi Kaplan, Wendy Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Focusing on episodes of student-generated and -sustained talk during document-based disciplinary history discussions, this study explored what teacher candidates prioritize and value about social studies discussions, and how these priorities align with their actions and goals as facilitators. Using a complex systems-based model, we investigated candidates’ goals as they planned for, facilitated, and reflected upon student sensemaking relative to three common orientations for social studies discussions: disciplinary history, participatory civics, and critical literacy. Findings revealed that candidates employed elements from all three orientations, yet without clear alignment to any particular approach. This misalignment reflected tensions between candidates’ stated goals, beliefs about student engagement, and instructional decisions. We draw implications for teacher education to support candidates in developing coherent practices for discussion facilitation that align with their instructional visions and sociocultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-91
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Social Studies Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Classroom discussion
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Democratic education
  • History education
  • Social studies
  • Teacher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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