Thesis Title

Using Ficiton to Teach American History in Middle School Affects on Student Engagement

Graduation Date

Fall 2010

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madeliene Peters, EdD


This research highlights the effects of using literature and relevant curriculum to teach history in grade levels 6 through 8, and analyzes how students respond when learning complicated themes and events through the medium of historic fiction. Specifically, my research seeks to inform secondary educators concerning the use of the narrative and corresponding curriculum as a tool to teach history. Additionally, my research explores how the use of literature in the social science classroom affects student engagement, comprehension and builds student connection to the material.

Research information was collected over a 6 month period on a literature based American history unit. The data collection methods included interviews with teachers involved in the implementation and instruction of the unit, student surveys and reflection response sheets, observations in the classroom, observations of written work, and analysis of the final project presentation.

Findings indicated that over the course of the narrative based project the students developed a deep emotional connection to their historic subjects and a measurable understanding of the time period. Students were able to analyze historic events, contextualize complex historic issues and draw their own conclusions about the content and material. In addition to these forms of student observable engagement, students showed a mastery of many skills including, oral presentation, drafting, writing in the first person, working cooperatively and reading for comprehension

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