Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Kathy O. Swan


This dissertation consists of three articles that focus on teaching, learning, and testing in civic education. Each article provides insights into how instructional practices in teaching and learning intersect with a state-mandated civics test.

Article One, “Is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Test Worthy of Being Included as a High School Graduation Requirement? A Closer Look at Implications for Kentucky,” is mixed methods sequential explanatory study on the implementation of the civics test requirement within two specific Kentucky school districts using student-level assessment data. Findings indicate that opportunities not only to learn civic content, but also learn it in an authentic way, increases the likelihood students will perform better on a civics assessment, such as the Naturalization Test.

Article Two, “Can the Civics Test Make You a Good Citizen? Reconciling the Civics Test with Inquiry-Based Instruction,” (Fraker, Muetterties, G. Swan & K. Swan, 2019) is an exploratory article framed by the question “is there a way to teach the factual knowledge needed to pass the civics test using an inquiry approach?” The article sets the stage for further research and lays out, using the Inquiry Design Module (IDM) process (Grant, Lee, & Swan, 2017), an embedded-action inquiry blueprint to combat the struggles teachers face when trying to implement the civics test in a meaningful way.

Article Three, “Putting Inquiry to the Test: A Case of Ambitious Social Studies Teaching,” is an exploratory qualitative study that used an embedded, single-case study to target one teacher’s approach on how to implement a state-mandated test using an inquiry approach. This case study analysis considers the data through the lens of the key elements of questions, tasks, sources, and ambitious teaching, which revealed evidence that naturally began to tell a story about one teacher’s use of inquiry to meet the requirements of the fact-based test. This study also revealed that implementing an inquiry-based approach is a highly nuanced endeavor requiring a teacher who can employ the principles of ambitious teaching.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)