Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Harry Merigis


The purpose of this field study is to describe the establishment of a second level of instruction in a Western World History course, offered in the sophomore year of the public high schools of Decatur, Illinois, District #61. This program of studies is designed to more fully develop the intellectual capabilities of students of high abilities, who may otherwise feel restrained as a member of a class containing many different academic levels. The curriculum seeks to aid students in developing more self-direction, confidence and historical awareness by various approaches of study of events, personalities of the past, dilemmas and conflicts of nations, and other historical situations. The study additionally offers a possible solution to instructors of Western World History, who may experience some frustration with handling a class resembling a cross-section of the general community, while presenting the high ability child in class with challenges necessary to develop his or her full potential.

The second-tiered curriculum would not be part of an official tracking system with the school system, but would nevertheless entice the students of high abilities to, voluntarily, operate at an intellectual level beyond that expected of his or her peers. Successful completion of the course would include a record of achievement that indicates the relative talents and abilities essential for selection to the District's Advanced Placement American History program. This latter course, offered at the senior level of high school, demands of students an ability to think abstractly, some expertise in research, and written and verbal communication skills, for which there is presently no deliberate program of preparation in the District's Social Studies curriculum.

The content of the course covers the basic span of Western World History, beginning with the ancient world of the Middle East, through the various achievements and failures of the civilizations of Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages. The course concludes with a study of the political, economic and social experiences that brought on modern societies in the West. At each step, specific objectives are identified, to focus the instructor on the value of each suggested project, and to establish criteria for individual and course evaluation.

The appendices contained within this study offer the means of communication necessary to involve (or withdraw) a student in the program. An evaluation form is included to specify the relative strengths and weaknesses of the participants, with a further document to testify to the successful completion of the course. Specific projects for the major historical periods of the course are the final appendix. A bibliography containing source material on successful instruction to the academically talented child, concludes the study.