Participatory Literacy and Taking Informed Action in the Social Studies

Participatory Literacy and Taking Informed Action in the Social Studies

Casey Holmes (North Carolina State University, USA) and Meghan McGlinn Manfra (North Carolina State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0000-2.ch003
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The purpose of the social studies is to prepare students for life as citizens in a democratic society, and this requires attention to the variety of digital spaces inhabited by our K-12 students in today's increasingly digitized world. Incorporating participatory technologies into structured inquiries in the social studies may help develop students' skills and abilities in critically sourcing, evaluating, sharing, and creating media, and provides the opportunity for increasingly democratic participation and civic engagement both in and out of the school setting. In this chapter, the authors suggest the integration of participatory literacy with the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) framework as a means of supporting students in taking informed action.
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Social Studies Education And Civic Efficacy

In order to truly prepare students for democratic citizenship, a key, though often overlooked, component of social studies education is supporting students as they take civic action or engage in participatory civic experiences (Levinson & Levine, 2013; Parker, 2003). Research on civic education suggests that the most effective approach to supporting students in developing their civic capacities and competencies is by providing active learning experiences focused on relevant issues, both inside and outside of the classroom (Croddy & Levine, 2014). For example, James Youniss (2012) argues that “democratic citizenship is best acquired by taking, rather than reading about, action” (p. 116). Taking action often emerges from posing and solving authentic problems that are posed through inquiry-based education, and the C3 Framework provides one pathway towards inquiry-driven studies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Studies: Collectively refers to the many branches of study that deal with how people live and work together, including but not limited to history, economics, geography, psychology, and civics. In the elementary and middle grades in the United States, “social studies” is taught as one discipline; high schools often structure social studies courses as subjects by the individual branches (e.g., geography).

Inquiry: Pedagogical approach and approach to learning that is based upon student investigation of broad, compelling, questions. This approach is closely tied to the purposes and goals of social studies education.

Media Literacy: Ability to locate, evaluate, analyze, and draw conclusions from media sources, including the ability to discern bias, truth, and accuracy. Also includes ability to critically evaluate media messages for connotations of power and identity.

C3 Framework: Inquiry-based framework for social studies instruction, based around an inquiry design model (IDM) and intended to be used in concert with individual state social studies standards.

Participatory Technologies: Web-based and/or technological tools that allow individuals the ability to actively engage with and produce knowledge; in contrast with passive tools that might allow individuals only to consume but not create or produce knowledge themselves.

Informed Action: A means of civic engagement in which individuals or groups of people take some kind of action to address a social or political question, following a process of inquiry, analysis, reflection, and decision-making.

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