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Department of Teaching and Learning

Social Science Education Faculty


Stephen Thornton


(813) 974-3533

(813) 974-3837 Fax

Office: 302

Mailing Address:

College of Education
Department of Teaching and Learning
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Ave., EDU105

Tampa, FL 33620-565


Bachelor's:  University of Newcastle (Australia)

Master's:     University of Newcastle
Diploma of Education, Mitchell College

Doctorate:    A.M., Ph.D., Stanford University

Stephen J. Thornton was born in Australia where he received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from the University of Newcastle. He taught history, social science, and English to grades 7-12 in a Bathurst, Australia boarding school. At the same time he was a resident assistant housemaster and completed a graduate diploma of education at nearby Mitchell College. He received his M. A. and Ph. D. in the School of Education's Curriculum and Teacher Education program, specializing in social studies, at Stanford University. His doctoral dissertation, Curriculum Consonance in United States History Classrooms, received the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's award as the outstanding American dissertation of the year in curriculum. Leaving California for the east coast, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Delaware. Five years later, in 1990, he joined the faculty of Teachers College.

Professor Thornton has lectured widely in the U. S., Europe, and Australia. His scholarly interests center on how teachers act as curricular-instructional gatekeepers translating the formal curriculum into instructional programs for their particular classrooms. Most of his scholarly writing concerns the ramifications of teachers tending the curricular-instructional gate for curriculum development, instructional methods and materials, and teacher education. He is currently writing a book on geography in American curricula.

Professor Thornton has chaired both the American Educational Research Association's Special Interest Group on research in social studies education and the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies. He is also active in the social studies profession. For example he has consulted with school districts in New Jersey and Connecticut on curriculum revision and acted as a reviewer for the New York City social studies curriculum framework. He has served on the editorial boards of journals such as Theory and Research in Social Education, American Educational Research Journal and The International Social Studies Forum.

Professor Thornton joined the USF Faculty in August of 2005.

Scholarly Interests
Social studies education. The study of geography and history. Curriculum and teacher education. Select Publications:

  • “Can History Stand Alone? Drawbacks and Blind Spots of a “Disciplinary” Curriculum,” with Keith Barton, Teachers College Record.
  • “Curriculum Design,” Encyclopedia of curriculum Studies (Sage).
  • “Social Studies for All: ESOL Strategies for the Elementary Classroom,” with Barbara Cruz, Social Studies and the Young Learner.
  • The Curriculum Studies Reader, 3rd ed., Co-editor with David Flinders (Routledge).
  • “Continuity and Change in Social Studies Curriculum,” Handbook of Research in Social Studies Education (Routledge).
  • Teaching Social Studies to English Language Learners, with Barbara Cruz, (Routledge).
  • “Geography in American History Courses,” Phi Delta Kappan.
  • “What is History in U.S. History Textbooks," School History across Cultures (Symposium Books).
  • Teaching Social Studies That Matters: Curriculum for Active Learning (Teachers College Press).
  • Horizons World History, Contributing Author (Harcourt).
  • "Incorporating Internationalism into the Social Studies Curriculum," Educating Citizens for Global Awareness (Teachers College Press).
  • "Citizenship Education and Social Studies Curriculum Change after 9/11," Social Education in the Twentieth Century: Curriculum and Context forCitizenship (Peter Lang).
  • "Silence on Gays and Lesbians in the Social Studies Curriculum," Social Education.
  • “Social Studies in the New York City Public Schools: A Descriptive Study," with Margaret Crocco, Journal of Curriculum and Supervision.
  • "Subject Specific Teaching Methods: History," Subject-specific Instructional Methods and Activities (Elsevier Science).
  • “Legitimacy in the Social Studies Curriculum," Education Across a Century: The Centennial Volume (100th Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Part 1).
  • “From Content to Subject Matter," The Social Studies.


2009 NCSS PowerPoint Presentation with Dr. Barbara Cruz:
"Visual Images in U.S. History"

2008 FCSS Power-Point Presentation with Dr. Barbara Cruz: "Including English Language Learners in Social Studies"

2008 NCSS Power-Point Presentation with Dr. Barbara Cruz:

"Including English Language Learners in Social Studies"





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