Seminar shifts future educators from ‘thinking like a student’ to ‘thinking like a teacher’

Four new seminar courses for Social Studies Education (SSED) students will better prepare these “Boilermaker Educators” with innovative training in teaching the content of the various disciplines that make up social studies in middle and high schools. Three of these will be taught this semester.

Kathryn Obenchain

The College revised these sophomore-level seminars as a response to student feedback. Students indicated they wanted to think about teaching their content earlier in their four-year program and to be more connected to Social Studies Education faculty.

“This will help students by having them think about and practice teaching their content earlier and with more knowledge about the specific pedagogical strategies that research has shown to be effective in promoting learning social studies,” said Kathryn Obenchain, associate dean for Learning, Engagement & Global Initiatives and professor of Social Studies Education. “It also will help our students shift their thinking from ‘thinking like a student’ while in class to ‘thinking like a teacher’.”

The seminar now includes four courses:

  • Teaching Civics And Government: Standards And Strategies (EDCU 21810), taught by Kathryn Obenchain
  • Teaching for Economic Literacy: Developing an Economic Way of Thinking (EDCI 21910), taught by Phillip J. VanFossen, interim dean of the College; Associate Director of the Purdue Center for Economic Education; and James F. Ackerman Distinguished Professor of Social Studies Education
  • Teaching History: Standards And Strategies (EDCU 21610), taught by Chrystal Johnson, associate professor of Social Studies Education
  • Teaching Geography: Standards And Strategies (EDCU 21710), to be taught Fall 2023 by one of the other Social Studies Education professors, ensuring that students get to work with and learn from a variety of professors.

“They can enter all of their content courses thinking not just about all of the content they are learning but also how the content is/isn’t appropriate for secondary students and how they might teach that content to younger learners,” Obenchain said.

“EDCI 21910 really was a class of providing frameworks and resources,” said Grant Kauffman, a sophomore in Secondary Social Studies Education. “If you wrote down everything that went on in that class and had an economics textbook, you would find yourself with plenty of material to run an economics course.”

The seminar is part of the College’s Innovation Initiative (I2), and began during the spring semester of 2022 with Johnson’s course focused on teaching history.

“These courses also dive into the required state standards for teaching social studies in Indiana – helping our students become more knowledgeable about what will be expected of them,” Obenchain added.

“For me, the class helped me visualize what an economic course could look like from a teacher’s perspective,” Kaufman said.

More info: Social Studies Education, BA