Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Teacher Education

Major Professor

Thomas N. Turner

Committee Members

Dorothy Hendricks, Russell L. French,David H. Folz


The purpose of this dissertation was to determine the stance the NCSS has articulated regarding the teaching of controversial issues across a thirty – year time frame, 1973 to 2003, and to determine the extent NCSS journals presented controversial issues of importance over that period. A corollary purpose was to identify the major controversial news events for each decade in order to determine the breadth of coverage of controversial issues articles in the NCSS journals. The journals examined for this dissertation were Social Education, Social Studies and the Young Learner, and Middle Level Learning.

One thousand eight hundred and forty – four articles collected from the 3 journals were used as data for this study. These articles were selected using a rubric for controversial issues following an analysis TIME magazines, two scholarly – produced public opinion polls, and results from an Expert – Panelist survey. The articles were analyzed according to the results of the Expert – Panelist survey, two literature – based models, and to controversial issues identified in NCSS’ Yearbooks and Bulletins. In all, the 1,844 articles addressed 304 different controversial issues topics across the 30 years of the study, with 31 of them having been Expert – Panelist identified and the remaining identified by NCSS.

The researcher concluded, based on her analysis that: 1.) NCSS published controversial issues articles dealing with broad themes rather than specific controversial events; 2.) NCSS was more likely to publish articles on hot – button, immediate controversies in the 1970’s than they were in subsequent decades; 3.) Social Studies and the Young Learner and Middle Level Learning contained far fewer controversial issues articles, as compared to Social Education, despite NCSS’ position that students at every level of k – 12 education learn democratic processes by studying controversial issues; and 4.) NCSS only moderately supported its Position Statements on the teaching of controversial issues in its three journals between the years 1973 and 2003.

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