Social Science Teachers' Critical Engagement with Best Evidence Synthesis Research
This thesis draws on qualitative data gathered in focus group discussions, and interviews with ten teachers and three academics to examine social science teachers' critical engagement with Effective Pedagogy in the Social Sciences /Tikanga-a-iwi Best Evidence Synthesis (Aitken & Sinnema, 2008). To assess teachers' critical engagement with the Social Science BES, the thesis develops a modified model designed to encourage critical thinking. The methodological approach involved recording two phases of self-directed teacher discussion before and after the introduction of the modified critical thinking model. The findings suggest that the model supported teachers in the short term, especially those participants for whom critical thinking about research evidence was a novelty. The model had little impact, however, for teachers with more critical thinking skills. A lack of accountability, entrenched teacher identity, and socio-centric dialogue were identified as barriers to the teachers' critical engagement with the Social Sciences BES. Further findings provide insight into how over-assimilation and inattention to the complexity of research evidence risk undermining the integrity of teacher inquiry. The thesis concludes with a discussion about the difficulty of teachers critically engaging with the Social Sciences BES and offers recommendations for different levels of the education system that might help facilitate critical engagement with Social Sciences BES research.