ERIC Identifier: ED274611
Publication Date: 1986-10-00
Author: Risinger, C. Frederick
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
for Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
How To Plan And Implement Successful Social Studies Inservice
Programs. ERIC Digest No. 34.
During the past decade, educational criticism and reform have affected
most aspects of public education in the United States. Scholars, blue-ribbon
commissions, and social critics have scrutinized the educational system, pointed
to perceived flaws, and prescribed remedies. Nearly every state has increased
course requirements or mandated curriculum changes. The social studies
curriculum is affected, directly and indirectly, by these efforts. Currently, a
major focus of the reformers is teacher preparation. Nationally, and in many
states, dramatic changes in teacher training and certification have been
recommended and implemented.
These reform efforts will influence the schools gradually or, given the
resistance of the educational system to change, perhaps not at all. The
overwhelming majority of people who will be teaching five years from now are
already in the classroom. If new ideas about teaching, improved instructional
strategies, and more effective materials are to be added to the day-to-day
activities of social studies teachers, the primary route must be through
in-service education. The most convenient and frequent means of in-service
education is the workshop--a relatively short meeting (a few hours to a few
weeks) on a specific topic that provides theoretical and practical assistance to
social studies teachers and/or supervisors.
This Digest (1) examines the purposes and types of social studies in-service
workshops; (2) provides guidelines for effective planning and implementation;
and (3) suggests helpful hints and areas of caution--all designed to assist
department heads, supervisors, and teachers in conducting successful in-service
WHAT ARE TYPICAL FORMATS FOR SOCIAL STUDIES WORKSHOPS?
There are at least six types of social studies workshop programs--each
distinguished by specific goals and modes of operation. Sometimes a workshop may
combine two or more types. These six types are outlined below.
--CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT, REVISION, AND IMPROVEMENT. These are very common
purposes for workshops. As social studies educators struggle with demands
brought by an era of educational reform, the social studies curriculum in
individual school buildings, school districts, and entire states is being
examined and restructured. To be effective, this type of workshop requires
extended periods of time. Workshop length may range from a concentrated two- or
three-week period during the summer months to the three to five years needed for
a project requiring periodic sessions in which educational philosophy and goals
are discussed, and specific content, scope and sequence, and instructional
activities are developed.
--AWARENESS AND/OR DISSEMINATION OF SOCIAL STUDIES MATERIALS AND STRATEGIES.
Ranging in length from an hour to one day, this workshop format allows for
explanations and demonstrations of new or exemplary materials or teaching
methods. The format differs from that of the curriculum development and
improvement workshop, because the focus is on awareness rather than academic
content or theories of teaching.
--EVALUATION OF CURRICULUM OR INSTRUCTIONAL IMPACT. This type of workshop
focuses on effects of the current program on students and teachers. Such a
workshop might include findings of researchers and various kinds of evaluation
strategies and instruments. It frequently is a difficult workshop to plan and
implement, because participants may have preconceived notions about the
materials or practices being studied.
--EVALUATION OF STUDENT PROGRESS. Similar to the evaluation of curriculum or
instructional impact workshop, this type shifts the focus to measuring student
achievement. To be effective, such a workshop requires prior development of
student goals and the means of attaining them. Both this type of workshop and
the curriculum instructional impact workshop are useful antecedents to a
curriculum development program.
--IMPLEMENTATION OF SPECIFIC MATERIALS OR STRATEGIES. A natural follow-up to
the awareness workshop, this program should include a thorough review of the
innovation's rationale and goals and of presentations from scholars in the
field. Relevant research and demonstrations, preferably by classroom teachers
who have used the materials or instructional strategies, should be emphasized.
--LOCAL SHARING PROGRAMS. This infrequently used workshop can quicken the
diffusion of new ideas, materials, or teaching strategies. Generally, one or a
group of local or area teachers describe and demonstrate exemplary practices in
their classrooms with a group of students and a teacher audience or with the
audience role-playing a class. A variant of this workshop type occurs when
teachers meet with business people, organization leaders, community leaders, the
clergy, and other citizens to identify local needs and use local resources to
WHAT GUIDELINES SHOULD BE USED IN PLANNING SUCCESSFUL WORKSHOPS?
As in most endeavors, planning is the key to successful in-service programs.
The following questions provide useful guidelines for planning.
1. WHAT ARE NEEDS OF PARTICIPANTS? Successful workshops meet the needs of
participants. Survey teachers to determine their concerns. Interview department
heads and solicit suggestions and perceived needs.
2. WHAT WILL BE THE CONTENT OF THE WORKSHOP? After determining needs, select
the content, format, and topic of the workshop in order to best meet
participants' needs. New materials or teaching methods may represent an
unexpected solution to an old need or even a solution to an unidentified
problem. Effective workshop planners continually identify and analyze the needs
of social studies teachers and continually seek information about new
instructional materials and strategies. They look for linkages between the two.
3. WHAT ARE SPECIFIC WORKSHOP GOALS? Even for a one-hour workshop, specific
goals should be identified and communicated to participants. This makes overall
planning easier, provides the basis for the workshop schedule, and enables both
the participants and presenters to evaluate the program.
4. WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE TO SUPPORT THE WORKSHOP? This topic includes
financial support, sufficient time to achieve the goals, availability of
participants, ample materials, appropriate facilities, and human resources such
as content specialists and demonstration teachers.
5. WHAT PARTICIPANT RECRUITMENT AND PUBLIC RELATIONS ACTIONS MUST BE TAKEN?
Depending on the workshop type and audience, recruitment brochures or leaflets
may be necessary. News releases for recruitment and post-workshop publicity are
also sometimes required.
6. WHAT LOGISTICAL TASKS ARE NECESSARY FOR A SUCCESSFUL WORKSHOP? Attention
to such items as appropriate audio-visual equipment, refreshments, programs,
seating arrangement, and parking can make the difference between a successful
and a mediocre workshop.
7. WHAT FORMAT WILL BE USED FOR WORKSHOP EVALUATION? If a workshop is worth
planning, it should be evaluated in relation to the predetermined goals. For
informal or small local programs, a discussion at the end of the workshop or
within a few days is sufficient. A workshop designed to encourage the use of new
materials or strategies requires more elaborate and longer-term evaluation.
8. WHAT FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES (IF ANY) ARE NECESSARY? Some workshop goals are
best achieved when follow-up activities reinforce the message. These activities
may include short sessions in which participants discuss their experiences since
the workshop; visits by workshop planners to participants' classrooms; local
workshops where participants tell colleagues about their experiences; or
presentations by workshop participants at local, state, or national professional
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE AND NOT DONE TO CONDUCT A SUCCESSFUL WORKSHOP?
The following suggestions have been gathered from training manuals,
leadership materials, and personal contact with skilled social studies workshop
planners and presenters. While not intended to be a comprehensive list, they
provide guidance and may serve as a checklist during workshop planning and
--DO involve participants as much as possible in the planning,
implementation, and evaluation. Participant involvement in goal setting is
directly related to participant satisfaction with the workshop.
--DON'T try to accomplish too much in one program. Trying to cover too much
or combine two or more workshop types is a major cause of dissatisfaction.
--DO use demonstrations and peer teaching when the workshop goal is to
encourage teachers to use a new teaching style or new materials. Experience with
the innovation, even if only for an hour, is directly related to the willingness
of teachers to try the materials in their own classrooms.
--DON'T forget content from history and the social sciences in workshop
planning. Social studies teachers are eager to attend subject matter updates in
their teaching area. Workshops on new materials and teaching techniques should
include presentations by content specialists.
--DO use some kind of an "ice breaker" activity, even with participants who
know each other. Individuals who feel comfortable with the group are much more
likely to participate actively in workshop activities.
--DON'T forget administrative support. Successful implementation of new
materials or strategies frequently requires administrative approval and
assistance. If possible, administrators should be included in some part of the
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Hanna, Bill. "Staff Development: Some Principles and Priorities." SOCIAL
STUDIES REVIEW 20 (Spring 1981):41-44.
Social Science Education Consortium. OUTREACH SERVICES FOR SOCIAL SCIENCE
EDUCATORS, GRADES 7-12: FINAL REPORT. Boulder, CO: Social Science Education
Consortium, 1980. ED 223 515
City University of New York. PROJECT DIRECTOR'S REPORT: ALTERNATIVES IN
SOCIAL SCIENCE EDUCATION, 1978-1980. Flushing, NY: City University of New York,
1980. ED 210 229
Rhodes, Gregory and Victor A. Smith. IN-SERVICE NEEDS ASSESSMENT: SOCIAL
STUDIES TEACHERS IN INDIANA. Muncie, IN: Ball State University, 1975. ED 125 967
Sergiovanni, Thomas J. HANDBOOK FOR EFFECTIVE DEPARTMENTAL LEADERSHIP.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1977.
National Education Association. TEACHING SOCIAL STUDIES IN THE SECONDARY
SCHOOL: DESCRIPTION OF TEACHER IN-SERVICE EDUCATION MATERIALS. Washington, DC:
National Education Association, 1977. ED 167 516
Von Eschenback, John F., and Ronald G. Noland. "In-Service Delivery System
Preferences Among Social Studies Teachers." THE SOCIAL STUDIES 73 (Jan.-Feb.