Seminar Papers

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

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The discipline of social studies has had a precarious relationship with technology, simultaneously touting its potential benefits and critiquing its limitations in facilitating social studies practice. The integration of technology tools and resources into instruction has been accompanied by an interest in the power of technology to affect changes in social, civic, and economic functioning. Some of this impact has been beneficial to the construction of global connections among diverse people, while other components of technology diffusion have highlighted and accentuated inequities in access and quality of exposure. Historically, we have many examples of the simultaneous predictions of the utopia of technological progress (Hudson, 1997) and cautionary views which question the value and worth of technology (Postman, 2000; Stoll, 1999).

Educators have been fascinated by the potential of technology to make our lives more enjoyable, more efficient, and more productive. In social studies, the application of technology as a tool to ameliorate work products has become firmly entrenched in curriculum, based on the premise that technology-based products can promote integrative learning, exploration of ethical and social policies, and active engagement in authentic activities. However, many schools have not kept pace with techno culture, either as a tool of instruction or as a focus of investigation and exploration (Berson, Lee, & Stuckart, 2001). Furthermore, the mere act of placing a computer in the classroom does not seed reform. Students may access data and receive up-to-date information from top researchers in any area of specialty; however, effectiveness requires more than facilitated access to knowledge. Technology is merely a “means to an end” (White, 1997b), and necessitates a broader understanding of its role and application by teachers and learners.

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

 Technology is a dynamic resource and tool that continues to develop over time, and subsequently has acquired an increasingly prominent role in society. Although the prohibitive cost of technology had initially inhibited widespread access for students in many schools, observations of the activities of children and youth today continue to bear witness to a generation that is immersed in computer technology for recreational purposes and more reliant on this global medium for information and social interaction (Berson, 2002).

Technology has facilitated accessibility to vast resources. Yet the promise of technology has not only been the ability to access information but also the opportunity to “command the inherited knowledge of the ages” (Ayers, 1999). It is the connections between remote pieces of information that can amplify patterns of thinking that were previously overlooked. This amplification is intensified through the dissemination of acquired insights to others across remote distances. As archives of past knowledge expand, the focus turns to the creation of new associations and interpretations that may further enhance our understanding and contribute to the richness of the field.

This process necessitates recognition that we only identify a sampling of the nearly infinite hypotheses possible through alternative combinations of knowledge. However, in an environment that is replete with an endless assortment of content, it is critical to evolve a discerning ability to grasp the complexity of information and justify the rationale for the way we structure and analyze data and synthesize its meaning (Berson & Berson, 2003). Multiple voices, perspectives, events, and implications are possible in this techno-environment, but what of the impact on teaching and learning?

The concept of social studies

However, Social Studies as a field of study it is designed to promote civic competence and it is integrative, incorporating many fields of endeavour. Social Science is an umbrella concept and a field of study or academic discipline which envelops a number of discrete disciplines in their discreteness or separateness such as Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Psychology, Geography, and many others (Meziobi & Meziobi, 2015). Although, Social Science as a subject can be view as that, which is generally regarded to include Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics and Political Science, consists of the disciplined and systematic Study of Society and its institutions, and of how and why people behave as they do, both as individuals and in groups within society. At a minimum, it would appear that to be “scientific” entails a systematic and disciplined method of acquiring knowledge, and that knowledge must be verifiable knowledge (McQuail, 2005).

The Social Sciences encompass diverse concerns of a society that include a wide range of content drawn from the disciplines of History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, and Sociology. The selection and organisation of material into a meaningful Social Science curriculum, one that will enable students to develop a critical understanding of society, is, therefore, a challenging task. The possibilities of including new dimensions and concerns are immense, especially in view of the students’ own life experiences.

The Concepts of Social Sciences and Its Objectives

 The term Social Science is a very broad area that covers disciplines like Economics, Geography, Political Science, Psychology, History and Sociology. This term has been defined variously by different authors and scholars. For example, Aliegba (2004) described Social Science as a discipline that deals with a socio-cultural aspect of human behaviours. The oxford advance learner’s dictionary 7th edition (2006) described Social Science as the study of people in the society or a particular subject connected with the study of people in society, for example Geography, Economics or Sociology. In the same view Okpaga (2003:5) defined Social Science as the discipline of study that attempt to give an understanding and explanation of human activity in the context of social relations, social groups and institution. All the definitions x-rayed point out to the fact that social science deals with human behavior and relationship in society.

 Social Studies as a course is about man and his social, political etc and behaviour and has it root from the Social Science subjects this is what had made it an eclectic subject. The relationship Social Studies has with other Social Sciences is important for the general growth, development and process of man in his different activities and relationship. Political Science is the study of social arrangements to maintain peace and order within a given society. It deals with government, and its interests are: Politics, Laws, Administration, International relations and theory of the nature and functions of the state. It has both a philosophical and a practical base.

It examines the theory of systems of government, but it also Studies actual practices by which government, Taxes, Prohibits, Regulates, Protects and Provides services. Lawal (2002) in Gajere (2015) postulated that the integration of the Political Science concepts in Social Studies provides the learners with the chances of learning about people’s attitude, idiosyncrasies and value judgment can be influenced. The integration of some concepts from political science into Social Studies curriculum content will enable the learner to understand that all societies make policies or law about how the people should live together in peace and harmony. This, also, exposes the students to the understanding that decisions, policies and laws made for and by a given society are a reflection of their values, beliefs and traditions


  1. Portable Technology

 Technology in social studies has potential as an instructional tool in teaching students both content and processing skills. Nonetheless, initiatives have often lacked the perspective of children who are helping to forge the technology landscape through their ambitious participation in this global medium. Portable devices offer the opportunity to fully engage children and youth with direct applications of the technology in applied contexts. Among these technologies are handheld devices, digital cameras, and mobile phones. Additionally, the evolving area of wireless computing offers the potential of inspiring different educational experiences that are free of the traditional constraints of the classroom or lab setting. The technologies used in handheld devices have evolved during the last decade, while digital cameras and cell phones have emerged from technology that is over a quarter-century old.

These tools have increasingly become affordable for consumers and schools. For example, in the digital camera market, approximately one-third of cameras sold in 2001 were digital (7 million), and analysts predict digital cameras to outsell film cameras by 2005. Flash memory card readers have significantly simplified transfer of images from camera to computer or printer. The operating systems of both the PC and Macintosh now include multimedia programs that facilitate digital storytelling. Similarly, handheld technology offers a means to maintain the physical structure of the classroom while enhancing content delivery and student productivity. Since learning is not restricted to a lab setting, handhelds allow versatility for application in authentic contexts.

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

This is especially true when the handheld technology is designed explicitly for use by teachers and students in the classroom. Beyond organizational skills within the classroom, students can use the handheld for survey and data collection, notation on field trips, networked communication, collaborative writing, and tracking of chronological events (Whitworth, Owings Swan, & Berson, 2002).

 The devices offer value, utility, and portability. Through the effective and appropriate use of handheld technology, early implementers are anticipating a paradigm shift in how technology is integrated into the teaching and learning process in a constantly changing world. Teachers will be able to spend more time teaching students to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and responsible citizens. Additionally, by using handheld technologies built specifically for education, less time will likely be spent adapting the technology for use in the classroom. By sending students into their world with portable technology in hand, teachers provide opportunities for children and youth to bring their lives into the classroom, creating a rich, authentic authoring space.

Writing notes, developing timelines, and arranging pictures as artifacts within a digital space allow students to explore events from multiple perspectives. As an extension or adaptation, students might create digital movies about an event, place or individual, using the various portable technologies to capture scenes, artifacts, and observation notes that would be woven together to tell a particular story.

In an era of increasing educational accountability, new innovations in education must be linked to content standards in order to succeed. Current national standards in social studies lend themselves to work with portable technologies. The National Social Studies Standards (1994) designed by the National Council for the Social Studies specify that students are to “analyze and explain the ways that groups, societies, and cultures address human needs and concerns; and demonstrate the value of cultural diversity, as well as cohesion, within and across groups” (Standard I: Culture).

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

Additional standards require students to “articulate personal connections to time, place, and social/cultural systems; identify, describe, and express appreciation for the influences of various historical and contemporary cultures on an individual’s daily life; and analyze the role of perceptions, attitudes, values, and beliefs in the development of personal identity” (Standard IV: Individual Development and Identity). There are strong potential connections in all the areas of social science education as educators focus on the common goal of enhancing and enriching social studies curricula by building from the base of quality pedagogic practice.

All state and national educational standards have literacy at their core. Today’s students spend more time immersed in an image-laden culture of television, movies, and video games than with static, printed text. The most recent NAEP Reading Assessment reported that only 32% of the nation’s fourth-graders were reading at a proficient or higher level, while 43% of these same students watched two or more hours of television each day (NAEP 2000, online).

 However, portable technologies can serve as a bridge to literacy and social studies. Multimedia tools included in the operating system of the latest versions of Macintoshes and PCs allow students to seamlessly combine word and image to create powerful digital stories that are authentic and robust. For example, digital storytelling finds a natural home in the social studies classroom, where personal narrative can be used to explore community-based history, politics, economics, and geography to convey effective meaning. These projects offer students the opportunity to bring their home lives into school while also working as “scholars” at home.

  1. Teacher Education

  The establishment of technological best practice is in its infancy, yet social studies teachers need examples of methods that they can model. To date, many teachers have used a limited knowledge base to guide instructional decision-making. Subsequently, student computer use often has been relegated to word processing and the retrieval of factual information from electronic resources. Additionally, the effective implementation of computers has been adversely affected by the extensive time required for social studies educators to reconceptualize their instructional repertoire to integrate technology.

Teachers tend to feel most comfortable with applications that can be assimilated into their current repertoire of functioning. Time is a scarce resource in classrooms, and the challenge of time to expand the use of technology in the classroom is an issue of critical importance. Both preparation time and class time for implementation are of concern to teachers when asked about problems in integrating software and Web-based instruction.

Yet Saye (1998) contends that technology can extend productivity and requires only upfront learning that is then easily transferred to other tools, minimizing the drain on available time. Constructing effective technology-based activities is critical and necessitates knowledge of the topic, available multimedia resources, and the ability to engage students in the inquiry process. It also requires developing a discerning skill to understand the best times to employ technology versus traditional materials in instruction (Braun, 2002). After all, technology is not a panacea for social studies education, and print resources can also provide opportunities to evaluate information, assess conflicting evidence, and develop an analysis.

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

  1. Artificial Intelligence in Education

 Just as the classroom teacher’s role has evolved from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side,” a similar shift in the role of artificial intelligence in education has been recommended, replacing computer-directed learning with software that supports the learning processes of students engaged in collaborative critical inquiry (Suthers et al., 2001). Students using technology that is void of ties and the world outside,” and (d) “awareness of past present and future” (Cogan et al., 2000, p. 50). Providing such examples of what is possible when teachers within their social studies classrooms utilize emerging technologies is a vital first step in preparing teachers to fulfil the mission of social studies. (Mason et al., 2000, p. 112)

Professional development should model ways to apply technology to nontechnical settings and across emerging forms of electronic medium (Berson, Mason, Heinecke, & Coutts, 2001). As technologies and applications change, teachers need instruction on how to adapt and innovate in new learning environments. In particular, cyberspace has augmented the expansiveness of information accessed by teachers and students (Becker, 1999). Moreover, because the Internet erodes the isolation of classroom instruction, social studies educators require skill in assessing the worth of knowledge gained through Web-based learning and interactions (Braun, 1997).

Preservice teachers must not simply acquire skills that make them proficient at using technology, but also learn how to use technology to make their teaching better than it would be without it (Mason, Berson, Diem, Hicks, & Lee, 2000). Therefore, preservice instruction enabling teachers to integrate technology seamlessly into lessons is more productive than technology instruction that merely teaches preservice teachers how to use specific computer skills.

 Despite perceived benefits of technology, including improved data collection, enhanced student computer skills, instructional variety, and communication across distances, many preservice education programs in social studies have lacked adequate preparation in technology integration (Cantu, 2000b). Notably absent has been integrated training of technology into methods courses (Rose & Winterfeldt, 1998). In contrast, technology-rich institutions have focused attention on emerging teachers and the benefits of and barriers to technology integration (Keiper, Harwood, & Larson, 2000). Efforts have been made to collaborate across courses within a university and across educational environments to model effective technology use (Mason & Berson, 2000; Bolick, 2002; Rose & Winterfeldt, 1998).

The Infusion of Technology in Social Studies Teacher Preparation Programs

Mason et al. (2000) offer five principles as guides for the appropriate infusion of technology in social studies teacher preparation programs:

 (1) Extend learning beyond what could be done without technology;

(2) Introduce technology in context;

 (3) include opportunities for students to study relationships among science, technology, and society;

(4) Foster the development of the skills, knowledge, and participation as good citizens in a democratic society; and

(5) Contribute to the research and evaluation of social studies and technology. They propose training that focuses on the integration of technology to enhance instruction in contrast to the acquisition of isolated technology skills.

The challenge in preparing social studies teachers to use technology begins by highlighting how technology can be used to encourage inquiry, perspective-taking, and meaning-making, and thus facilitate “civic learning, deliberation, and action” (Cogan et al., 2000, p. 50). This begins with demonstrating the power of technology to support specific social studies activities and projects that together centers on the development of children’s (a) “personal civic beliefs,” (b) “capacity for social and public action,” (c) “ties to their local- based on the dream of its promise.

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

The potential of technology in social studies is still being realized, and patience combined with nurturance of its application must occur if social studies educators are to be responsive to the requisites of the electronic or knowledge age. If we unwittingly make excessive or disorderly demands on our technological resources, we will block the dynamic emergence of its potential. On the other hand, social studies educators have the opportunity to discover, activate, and channel these resources to evolve social studies’ technological thinking and practice, transcending its pubescent state to a mature level of development.

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science

The Importance Of Science To Man

Science is valued by society because the application of scientific knowledge helps to satisfy many basic human needs and improve living standards. Finding a cure for cancer and a clean form of energy are just two topical examples. Similarly, science is often justified to the public as driving economic growth, which is seen as a return-on-investment for public funding. During the past few decades, however, another goal of science has emerged: to find a way to rationally use natural resources to guarantee their continuity and the continuity of humanity itself; an endeavour that is currently referred to as “sustainability”. Below are the areas in which man benefits from science:


(a) Transportation – it is fashionable to hear the slogan ‘good evening in Nigeria, good morning in London!’ This is the miracle of transport science. Obstacles of the high-sea, mountains, and unimaginable distances have been elliptically assaulted. With the airplanes and naval vessels, the myths of altitude and depth have collapsed. With rockets, adventures have been made to the moon and other planets and possessory rights like flags established there. Notice also that more safety devices as airbags, et cetera, are being devised daily

(b) Climatology – today, men determine weather and seasons at their private caprice. With air conditioner and heaters, the effect of inimical weather changes has been ‘rounded up’. Even natural disasters can be predicted with sensitive instruments and either averted or made less disastrous.27 The recent hurricane bash that struck America is a case in point.

(c) Medicine – some diseases which hitherto were grossly lethal have been relegated to the insignificant effect of temporary indisposition in health as follows: Malaria, Rabies, even HIV and today Avian Flu are now handled with expert knowledge and care. With immunization, some illnesses would not even indicate. What is more! Epidemics are anticipated and prevented (Guinea worms). All too interesting were the advances made in clinical psychology and psychosomatic medicine.

The Concept of Social Studies and Social Science

(d) Communication – this is the fashionable thing today. It is the state of the arts to be connected and to be online. Telephones, handsets, computer microchips, etc., have developed the information super-highways making the traffic quite heavy today. Posting of letters is obsolete, the manual typewriter is obsolete, telegram too. It is fashionable to talk of e-mail, e-learning, e-voting, e-banking, e-research; we even have e-loving who knows whether the next engagement will be with e-eating (EE). With all these, the world has been globalized into a village. Though expansive, it is sensitively intensive. This is critiquing African communism. 28 Space and time have been encountered and needed re-definition.

(e) Banking and economics – here we have the use of credit cards. Slot it in, pick your money and go!

 (f) Agriculture and Industry – agriculture in the New World is mechanized. It is no longer at the subsistence level. Man’s production and marketing have taken a great mechanical leap. Also with improved storage and processing facilities we can process and store for non-viable seasons. In this way, famine becomes a myth.


Grounding evaluation of the new electronic learning environments on the NCSS Standards underscores the point that the importance of technology in social studies classrooms depends on its ability to support and amplify powerful teaching and learning of content and skills. This is as true now as it was when I flipped the switch on my Apple II+ for the first time. Technology is only a means to an end. Shirley Engle reminded us a dozen years ago of the comment by Albert Einstein that, for the first time in history, there is a surplus of means over ends.5 Technology is of limited usefulness in helping us decide on what those ends should be.

Technology is at an exciting crossroads. The adolescence of technology integration into social studies has been tumultuous. Some educators have made a stronger connection with computers and their curricular application, touting the opportunity to enrich students’ learning and critical skill development. Others have cringed at the influence asserted by a tool whose power is largely based on the dream of its promise. The potential of technology in social studies is still being realized, and patience combined with nurturance of its application must occur if social studies educators are to be responsive to the requisites of the electronic or knowledge age.

If we unwittingly make excessive or disorderly demands on our technological resources, we will block the dynamic emergence of its potential. On the other hand, social studies educators have the opportunity to discover, activate, and channel these resources to evolve social studies’ technological thinking and practice, transcending its pubescent state to a mature level of development.

The Concept and Relationship of Social Studies and Social Science


Ady, J. K. (1999). Computer-mediated communication in a high school global education curriculum: a brochure project. The Social Studies, 90(4), 159–163.

Anderson, D. L. (1999). Heuristics for educational use and evaluation of electronic information: A case of searching for shaker history on the World Wide Web. Journal of the Association for History & Computing, 2(2). Available: INDEX.html

Berson, M. J. (2002). Reflecting on technology in the social studies: Past, present, and future perspectives. The International Social Studies Forum, 2(2), 159–161.

superhighway. Social Education, 61(3), 49–153. Braun, J. A. (2002). Social studies education and technology: A rock and roll perspective. The International Social Studies Forum, 2(2), 167–169.

Risinger, C. F. (2002). Technology, social studies, and educational change. The International Social Studies Forum, 2(2), 187–190.

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