MAT Social Science Areas of Study

The WGU Master of Arts in Teaching, Social Science (5–12) program content is based on research on effective instruction as well as national and state standards. It provides the knowledge and skills that enable teachers to teach effectively in diverse classrooms. The Master of Arts in Teaching, Social Sciences (5–12) program content and training processes are consistent with the accountability intent of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The degree program is focused on the preparation of highly qualified teachers. As described in the federal legislation, a highly qualified teacher is one who not only possesses full state certification, but also has solid content knowledge of the subject(s) he or she teaches. The hallmarks of our program include: (a) appropriate and rigorous subject-matter preparation, (b) research-based pedagogical course preparation, and (c) clinical field experiences in which teacher candidates are supervised by trained coaches.

Foundations of Teaching

The Foundations of Teaching area of study contains competencies underlying our knowledge about children, learning, and teaching. As you begin to work in the Foundations of Teaching area of study, your mentor will assess your readiness to begin state-required content knowledge testing needed for certification. Your mentor will also assist you in beginning the process of application and acceptance into the two different components of WGU field experiences: the pre-clinical experiences (PCE) and demonstration teaching (DT). Video-based pre-clinical field experiences are embedded in the performance assessments of the Foundations of Teaching domain and require observation, analysis, and reflection based on real classroom situations (in-class PCE will take place in a school near you when you start work on the Effective Teaching Practices domain).

You may not transfer credits or prior years of teaching experience from other institutions to meet requirements in Foundations of Teaching. In the first six months of working in the Foundation of Teaching domain, you must also register for and pass a Basic Skills Test. Many states require such a test for licensure, and you will need to take the one applicable to your state. For states with no specific Basic Skills Test, you will sign up for and take the Praxis 1 exam.

Foundations of Teaching Practice Integration
This is a comprehensive exam assessing the student’s knowledge of the competencies listed below. The student may participate in a comprehensive review session with a mentor and peers to prepare for the assessment.

Teacher Education Diversity

Courses focused on diversity serve to broaden and deepen students’ understanding, experience, and critical thinking skills with regard to cultural differences and cross-cultural interactions.

Fundamentals of Diversity, Inclusion, and Exceptional Learners
Students will learn the history of inclusion and develop practical strategies for modifying instruction, in accordance with legal expectations, to meet the needs of a diverse population of learners. This population includes learners with disabilities, gifted and talented learners, culturally diverse learners, and English language learners.

Instructional Planning and Presentation

Instructional Planning and Presentation for Social Science
Students will continue to build instructional planning skills with a focus on selecting appropriate materials for diverse learners, selecting age- and ability-appropriate strategies for the content areas, promoting critical thinking, and establishing both short- and long-term goals.

Social Science Content (Grades 5-12)

Social Science Pedagogy
This course helps students develop the knowledge and skills required as a beginning teacher of social studies in a secondary school. The activities help students develop the knowledge about planning and teaching social studies lessons and assessing the academic progress of secondary school students in social studies.

Preclinical Experiences

Preclinical Experiences in Social Science
Students will observe and participate in a wide range of in-classroom teaching experiences in order to develop the skills and confidence necessary to be an effective teacher. Students will reflect on and document at least 60 hours of in-classroom observations. Prior to entering the classroom for the observations, students will be required to meet several requirements including a cleared background check, passing scores on the state or WGU required basic skills exam, a completed resume, philosophy of teaching, and professional photo.

Demonstration Teaching

Demonstration Teaching is a full-time, in-classroom supervised experience required of all teacher candidates. It is the culminating experience of the program and all academic requirements must be complete before beginning. Additional requirements include a cleared background check, passing scores on state and WGU required content exams, and demonstration of satisfactory teacher dispositions.

Supervised Demonstration Teaching in Social Science
A WGU clinical supervisor (an experienced educator who lives and works near your teaching location) will observe your teaching on multiple occasions — at least six observations are required — and evaluation will be completed according to a published checklist and rubric. The clinical supervisors submit the results to WGU for review and recording.

Teacher Work Sample
The WGU Teacher Works Sample requires teacher candidate to plan and teach a multi-week, standards-based instructional unit that showcases a collection of content, planning, instructional, and reflective skills.

Professional Portfolio in Social Science
Students will create and online teaching portfolio to demonstrate competency of the Demonstration Teaching experience. The portfolio is a way to show colleagues and potential employers the skills that have been developed throughout your Demonstration Teaching experience.

Cohort Seminar in Social Science
Students will participate in a weekly cohort call to collaborate with a cohort facilitator and fellow students to discuss progress and best practices for completing the Teacher Work Sample, Observations, and Portfolio.

Research Fundamentals

Foundations of Research
This course focuses on differentiating between different research paradigms, including qualitative, quantitative, and action research. Along with those paradigms, this course also focuses on research study critique, the developing of measurable research questions, hypothesis development, different types of variables and data, and the collection and evaluation of data.

Literature Reviews for Educational Research
This course focuses on the foundation of literature reviews by introducing students to quantitative, qualitative, and action research paradigms, the purpose of a literature review, selecting an appropriate research topic, evaluating the reliability of primary and secondary source information, and developing a literature review with basic data evaluation concepts.