Eric D. Moffa

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Robert A Waterson

Committee Co-Chair

Mary E Haas

Committee Member

Erin C McHenry-Sorber

Committee Member

G H Budd Sapp

Committee Member

Sam F Stack


Social studies teachers are sensitive to local school and community values and, therefore, tactful when making decisions about their curriculum (Romanowski, 1996; Shaver, Davis, & Helburn, 1980; Thornton, 1989), including its citizenship aims (Saada, 2013; Sondel, 2015; Vinson, 1998). For this reason, scholars call for better contextual understandings of teachers' curricular-instructional gatekeeping (Thornton, 1989; Vinson, 1998). Rural-specific examples of this phenomenon remain largely unexamined (Martin & Chiodo, 2007; Pattison-Meek, 2012), though rural schools make up 32.9% of all schools in the United States (Johnson, Showalter, Klein, & Lester, 2014) and rural communities offer distinct socio-geographic and socio-cultural contexts (Brown & Schafft, 2011). To address this research deficit, the current study sampled five government teachers in rural schools to examine their conceptualizations of citizenship education, perceptions of place, and the influences that affect their curricular-instructional gatekeeping. This study adopted a social constructionist perspective to explore the values and meanings participants placed on citizenship within their rural contexts. It utilized a grounded theory research design to sample government teachers from four "distant-rural" schools and collect data from three sources: interviews, classroom observations, and teaching artifacts. A constant comparison method of data analysis produced a theory to describe citizenship education in rural contexts. The theory consists of three themes that emerged from the data: (1) citizenship education as practical knowledge; (2) place-based learning for future (dis)placements; and (3) the gatekeeping triad. Descriptions of these themes and their relationships with one another illuminate the practices of citizenship education in rural areas and provide knowledge of the rural conditions that influence it. Findings suggest government teachers in rural areas need to become more critical of their treatment of place and citizenship to encourage place-conscious civic life.