Thesis Title

How Does the Use of Simulations Enhance Fifth Graders' Multicultural Understanding of Social Studies

Graduation Date

Spring 2000

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Grace Grant, EdD


Fifth graders are expected to learn a Social Studies curriculum that requires knowledge of cultures as well as facts in history. The study proposes that simulations are a way to enhance the Social Studies curriculum by increasing students’ multicultural awareness through involvement. Simulations are carefully planned lessons that duplicate the essence of a situation or task. Students in a carefully planned histoiy simulation actively make decisions and feel the emotions similar to those experienced by people in the past or in another culture. The study examines how a Native American teaching unit which includes four simulations and a focus on cultural aspects of different tribes enhances the fifth graders’ multicultural understanding in one classroom. The study made use of classroom observations, pre and post tests, journals, KWL activities and an Archeological Dig Activity to reveal that during and after the teaching unit, students were highly motivated to participate, students’ understanding of the Native American culture became more differentiated and organized around key concepts of culture and contrasting customs. Students also showed in a Colonial Diary entity written from a Native American viewpoint that they were able to continue to empathize with Native Americans two months later while studying about the early English Colonists. The study suggests that students need active involvement in their learning in order to gain motivation and critical thinking skills.

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