Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Julie Coiro


Since Wineburg (1999) suggested that history is an act of reasoning rather than remembering, historical thinking (or disciplinary history) has become a widely accepted and practiced vision for history instruction in the United States. Yet evidence suggests that this has not contributed to greater student learning or investment. Some scholars have pointed to a need for culturally sustaining pedagogy in history classrooms, but a vision for such a pedagogy remains unarticulated. This study involves a group of high school teachers in practitioner inquiry aimed at developing both their own learning and knowledge for the field about the practices of culturally sustaining disciplinary history pedagogy. Teachers in this study participated in a collaborative and constructivist professional learning group (PLG), in which they learned about culturally sustaining teaching and experimented with new practices in their disciplinary history classrooms. This study explored teachers’ understanding and practice of culturally sustaining disciplinary history teaching and examined how participation in a professional learning group supported teachers’ learning and practice. Findings revealed that teachers identified five practices of culturally sustaining disciplinary history instruction: presenting problematizing evidence, teaching historiography, foregrounding historical connections (between history and students’ lives and identities, between the past and the present, and between national or global history and local history), fostering student discourse, and encouraging student choice and questioning. Findings also revealed that teachers found five components of the PLG to be helpful to their learning and practice: readings, discussion, experimentation, reflection, and collaboration. Finally, the study found that the PLG helped teachers to develop a more intentional practice and to plan for individual and collective sustainability of their learning.



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