Design and implement ambitious inquiry-based Social Studies instruction to foster students' critical engagement with the past and present.

The Inquiry in Social Studies Classrooms program equips middle and high school Social Studies teachers and instructional leaders with the tools, resources, and practices needed to facilitate inquiry-based instruction with students of all levels.

What Sets Us Apart

  Learn from leading experts in the field of Social Studies education
  Gain tangible tools, resources, and strategies for facilitating document-based inquiry
 Connect with like-minded educators to build transformational learning experiences

About the Program

The Inquiry in Social Studies Classrooms program welcomes secondary Social Studies teachers and instructional leaders who are eager to design inquiry-based instruction to join a community of like-minded educators. This program will provide participants with the tools, resources, and research-based practices that will allow them to design ambitious  Social Studies instruction for diverse groups of middle and high school students.

 Application Deadline

  • Priority Application Deadline: June 1, 2024
  • Final Deadline: July 31, 2024

Program StartSeptember 10, 2024

Length & Time Commitment4 months

Certificate OfferedPenn GSE Certificate of Participation

Credits4 Continuing Education (CE) Credits
40 Pennsylvania ACT 48 Credits


  • Standard rate: $1,500
  • 15% discount available for:
    • Applications received by June 1st
    • Penn GSE and Center for Professional Learning alumni
    • Penn employees
    • Groups of 5+ from the same organization, contact us prior to applying. 

 Ideal Candidates

  • Middle and high school Social Studies teachers
  • Instructional leaders (teacher leaders, coaches, Social Studies specialists or others who teach or support Social Studies instruction)
  • Online
Programs for Working Professionals
This program follows a unique three-part model that is designed to align with research-based best practices in teacher professional development.
  • In Part I: Explore, educators asynchronously engage with a carefully curated curriculum to deepen their own understanding of the program’s topics. 
  • In Part II: Envision, educators attend live virtual workshops led by expert Penn faculty and experienced practitioners and create a plan for applying their new knowledge and skills.
  • In Part III: Enact, educators implement their plan in their classroom or school.  At the same time, they attend live virtual small group meetings with colleagues to connect, collaborate, reflect, and learn from each other's experiences.
What is inquiry-based instruction?

In inquiry-based classrooms, students learn by pursuing answers to their questions. Inquiry instruction requires that students evaluate information, construct complex understandings, and reason across difference, rather than passively receive pre-digested bits of information. To design inquiry-based learning, teachers must formulate rich content-learning goals, and scaffold materials and learning activities such that students deepen their content understanding by interacting with the materials and with peers.

Learning Goals
  • Learn about the goals and key elements of designing inquiry for Social Studies classrooms
  • Explore strategies for supporting students to make sense of the past and present, hone their disciplinary skills, and critically interrogate compelling questions
  • Design and enact one week of inquiry-based Social Studies instruction with students
  • Reflect on the design and enactment process, identifying successes, challenges, and recurring dilemmas to inform future inquiries

Program Schedule

Time CommitmentsSession
September 10, 2024Asynchronous module ~10 hoursPart I: Explore - Learners will deepen their understanding of the goals and elements of inquiry-based instruction in Social Studies by exploring resources on our online learning platform.
October 7, 20245:00-7:00 p.m. (ET)Part II: Envision - Learners will engage in a series of case analyses around recurring dilemmas in teaching Social Studies inquiry. Discussions will unpack the complex and dynamic nature of enacting such instruction and how our instructional decisions are shaped by who we are. 
October 21, 20245:00-7:00 p.m. (ET)
October 28, 20245:00-7:00 p.m. (ET)
November - DecemberFour synchronous sessions - dates and times will be scheduled after July 31st. 

Part III: Enact - Learners will participate in live, virtual small group meetings to plan and enact one week of Social Studies inquiry instruction. Team members will support learners in designing the instructional sequence and weighing dilemmas that may arise in both planning and enactment. Learners will be organized into groups based on their time zones and availability.

Continuing Education Credits - FAQs & Policy

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of obtaining Continuing Education (CE) credits? - Having an official record of your participation in this program can add credibility to the work that you invest in completing it.  In some school districts, CE credits can be used to help educators advance along their pay scale. 
  • What style of grading does this program follow? - Programs that offer CE credits award "Pass/Fail" grading. 
  • Can I add CE credits after I get started in the program? - You must decide before you start the program if you will be participating as a learner who is completing the program for CE credentialing. You will not be able to opt in after the program starts. 
  • Can I receive partial credit or opt out of receiving CE credits after I start the program? - No, this program can not offer partial credit if a learner can not complete the program. However, a learner can unenroll from the program by the drop deadline and will be responsible for 100% of the program fee. 
  • Why might you not want CE credits? - If you choose to receive CE credits but do not successfully complete this program, you risk receiving an F on your permanent Penn transcript.
  • Can participating educators receive Pennsylvania Act 48 credits if they don't register for CE credits? - Yes! All Pennsylvania educators are eligible to receive the total amount of ACT 48 credits regardless of their preference for CE credits. 

Continuing Education Credits Policy

Please read the policy below carefully to understand the important consequences that choosing to receive CE credits may have for your University of Pennsylvania transcript.  

As a participant in this Penn GSE  Certificate program, you are eligible to receive Continuing Education (CE) credits for successful completion of the program requirements.  Whether or not you choose to receive CE credits for your participation in this program, all program expectations and requirements are the same.  

If you choose to receive CE credits, this course will appear on your permanent Penn transcript. 

If you decide to unenroll from this program, you will have until the Add/Drop Deadline to do so without consequence for your transcript.  This course will no longer appear on your Penn transcript.  

If you decide to unenroll from this program after the Add/Drop Deadline, then this course will appear on your Penn transcript.  Courses dropped after the Add/Drop Deadline requires instructor approval, and a 'W' will appear on your transcript in place of a grade.

If you decide to unenroll from this program after the Withdrawal Deadline, then this course will appear on your Penn transcript, and you may earn an F.

If you choose to receive CE credits for your participation in this program but do not successfully complete it, then you may earn an F on your Penn transcript. 

Please indicate whether or not you would like to receive CE credits for your participation in this program on your application.

Our Faculty

Penn GSE Faculty Andrew del Calvo
Doctoral Candidate, University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Abby Reisman
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty Andrew J. Schiera
Adjunct Professor
Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania