First Person America

An Upstate New York BOCES, an organization providing resources and services to local school districts, sought to strengthen K-12 teachers’ understanding and appreciation of American History, with the ultimate goal of improving student achievement in history and social studies. Their First Person America project, funded through a U.S. Department of Education grant, consisted of professional development activities for teachers at all grade levels that included hands-on and expert-driven experiences, such as historian-led information sessions, a summer institute, and history-focused field experiences to locations in the eastern U.S.

To determine their level of success, the Hezel team measured a series of indicators tied to specific goals and objectives regarding participating teachers’ content knowledge, teaching self-efficacy, and sense of community with other history and social studies teachers. Changes in their students’ knowledge of history were also assessed. In general, this project saw positive results, with many teachers showing increases in the targeted areas. Students of reporting teachers also demonstrated improved mastery of content.