Theoretical Cognitive Principles Observed in the Social Studies Classroom


  • Juan Walker Augusta University
  • Elise Langan Middle Georgia State University
  • Andrew Kemp Augusta University
  • John Pagnotti Osceola County
  • William B Russell University of Central Florida


critical thinking, learning processes, intellectual interaction, application of knowledge


Pre-service elementary social studies teachers in the southeastern United States participated in a mixed methods study to determine the degree to which they utilized critical thinking skills.  Insight Assessments administered analysis of their reflections, critical thinking skills, and dispositions test; the researchers developed a post survey for the study based on Paul & Elder’s (2009) work.  Pre-service teachers initially believed that their critical thinking abilities were above average; however, after taking the skills and dispositions test and receiving feedback on their reflections, they developed a new appreciation and understanding of the components of critical thinking. They also made a commitment to help their future students develop their critical thinking skills. This study addresses the need to consider how our pre-service teachers think, how to help them think more critically, and how to help them teach critical thinking skills when they become teachers.  

Author Biographies

Juan Walker, Augusta University

Teacher Education

Assistant professor 

Elise Langan, Middle Georgia State University

Teacher Education

Associtate professor 

Andrew Kemp, Augusta University

Teacher Education

Associtate Professor 

John Pagnotti, Osceola County

Teacher Specialist for Osceola County 

William B Russell, University of Central Florida

Teacher Education

Associate proferssor