Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education


Teacher Education

First Advisor

Ellen J. Foster

Second Advisor

Louis G. Zachos

Third Advisor

James Payne

Relational Format



This qualitative phenomenographic study explores students' engagement using gis-story maps in an eighth-grade social studies classroom from a southeastern United States’ school district. The study answered the following questions: (1) how do eighth-grade students perceive their engagement with social studies when it is taught using story maps? (2) how do eighth-grade students perceive the relationship between gis, story maps to their own life? This study investigates students' engagement from the perspective of the students rather than the teacher. Qualitative data collection involved classroom observations, student-written reflections, and oral interviews of fourteen student-participants. The data analysis reveals that students perceive story maps as engaging in four qualitatively different ways: generating inquiry, visualizing information, mapping interactively, and cycling. Students see a geographic and cultural connection between story maps and their lives, and were also able to see a beyond the classroom connection. The study presents students' description of themselves when they are engaged, stressing the importance of classroom learning experiences, studenting, evidencing, and fostering intrinsic motivation. The results from the study supported the notion that students want their learning in social studies to include variety and active learning strategies.



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