Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Suha Tamim


This action research study focused on a problem of practice observed in a Title 1 middle school in rural South Carolina, where seventh-grade students show low academic achievement levels in social studies, evidenced by low scores on teacher-made tests, district benchmarks, and the state standardized test. To address this problem of practice, research questions were formulated: What is the impact of implementing a thematic unit on World War One, an integrated approach, on students' motivation to learn social studies? What impact will the implementation of a thematic unit on World War One have on students’ perception of social studies? and, What impact will the implementation of a thematic unit on World War One have students’ academic achievement on a social studies unit test? A program of study employing the use of a thematic unit on World War One was administered to address the research questions.

The research was conducted within a six to eight-week period. Grounded in action research methodology and using a convergent mixed-method design, the study used a convenience sampling technique, involving two school- determined intact classes which formed a control group and a treatment group. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed. The findings revealed that thematic teaching is an effective method of instruction but did not produce any significant difference in students’ performance when compared to the traditional approaches to teaching social studies. An action plan was thus devised to include ways to incorporate thematic teaching as an alternative strategy to teaching social studies.


© 2019, Holness Samuels