Rebuilding the past through dusty stuff: How Turkish students respond to primary source based social studies education?


  • Melisa Akbulut İstanbul University-Cerrahpaşa
  • Mehmet Açikalin İstanbul University-Cerrahpaşa


Primary source, social studies education, social studies education in Turkey


While the use of primary sources in education has long been an object of interest, their adoption is still lacking in social studies courses in Turkey. This work presents the results of a qualitative study conducted with the participation of 37 students and a social studies teacher with the aim to reveal 7th-grade students’ and teachers’ opinions on primary source-based activities used to teach a social studies unit. Semi-structured interviews, field observation notes, and primary source analysis handouts were used. We find that primary source-based activities helped participants to better understand the lessons, increased interest, motivation, and participation in the course, supported empathy development, and gave students the opportunity to express themselves. Some of the issues that emerged in the use of primary sources were the difficult readability of some of the sources, challenges in managing time effectively, and difficulty for some of the students to work in groups efficiently.


Key Words: Primary source, social studies education, social studies education in Turkey


Author Biography

Mehmet Açikalin, İstanbul University-Cerrahpaşa

Prof. Dr. Mehmet Acikalin, Ph.D. Istanbul University - CerrahpasaHasan Ali Yucel College of EducationDepartment of Social Studies EducationAddress: Alkent 2000 Mah. YigitTurk Cad. No:5/7Buyukcekmece Yerleskesi -Buyukcekmece / ISTANBUL / TURKEY  34500