Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon

Committee Members

Frances K. Harper, Mitsunori Misawa, Stewart Waters


This single case study with embedded units of analysis examines how three early elementary teachers in Kentucky public schools taught the 2020 Presidential Election in grades one, two, and three using Scholastic News resources as instructional tools. The research questions focused on how teachers used the materials and the pedagogical strengths of the instructional resources. The three research participants were purposefully selected as early-career, mid-career, and late-career teacher leaders in grades one, two, and three. Data collected included semi-structured interviews, qualitative data analysis of the Scholastic News instructional materials, multi-level policies, and news reports concerning the election. The analysis focused first on individual teachers, then on similarities among teachers, and themes were interpreted and triangulated using other data, literature, and documents.

Among the key findings identified in the study are: Scholastic News resources served as a touchstone for the participants as they navigated between their professional beliefs and professional realities about how to teach and discuss issues related to the 2020 Presidential Election. Scholastic News resources served as a groundwork for building student discussions and instructional units. Modifications to Scholastic News resources led to unintended benefits identified by the participant teachers. This research offers insight into how student periodicals and supplemental materials were used to teach a Presidential Elections and understand their usefulness as an instructional tool for educators. Recommendations are offered for approaching controversial issues in early elementary classrooms. Also included in the study are discussions for future research, policy, and practitioner work relating to controversial issues in early elementary education and teaching Presidential Elections in elementary school.

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