Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education, Health & Behavior Studies


The major purpose of this study was to determine when children can internalize concepts concerning home, state, and nation.

Educators and psychologists have not in the past worked in harmony as new curricula and methodologies have been developed. It was the intent of this research to provide statistical data and verbal comparisons on selected research questions to determine the effect of children's chronological age on the ability to generalize social studies concepts.

The following research questions were investigated:

1. Do North Dakota elementary students differ from Swiss Children investigated by Piaget in their concept of nation?

2. Do North Dakota elementary students develop an understanding of nationalism in a predictable pattern?

3. Do North Dakota elementary students differ in their nationalistic conception from east to west and from north to south within North Dakota?

4. Do North Dakota elementary students from rural communities differ from urban communities in their concept of nationalism?

5. Do North Dakota elementary students from homogeneous ethnic communities differ from heterogeneous ethnic communities in their concept of nationalism?

The research population used in this investigation consisted of stratified randomly selected students in grades one through six from six regions of North Dakota. Two students per grade were selected from each school. Two rural and one urban community were selected for each of the six regions. Four homogeneous ethnic communities, one of which was also included in the random selection, were included and two students per grade were also selected from these schools. The total population used in the study was 244.

All students participating in the study were administered a questionnaire constructed from a model used by Piaget and Weil (1951) modified to the North Dakota situation. The questionnaire was administered on a one to one basis with verbal answers which were tape recorded.

The basic statistical design utilized in the study was a one way analysis of variance.

The summary of the findings are as follows:

1. There was no significant difference between North Dakota students in 1969 and Swiss students in the 1940's in the conception of nationalism.

2. In consideration of scores on the total questionnaire North Dakota students do conceive an understanding of nationalism following a predictable pattern beyond the .001 level of significance.

3. There was no significant difference in nationalistic conception between students living in the Red River Valley, The Drift Prairie or the Missouri Plateau.

4. There was no significant difference in nationalistic conception between urban and rural North Dakota students.

5. In the comparison of students from Slavic, German, Scandinavian, and Icelandic communities to students from the other eighteen communities in the study there was no significant difference between groups.

Conclusions: 1. In learning social studies concepts young children will be more successful if the concepts are concrete and consider local situations.

2. The pressure of the multi-media in its many variations does not influence a child's ability to learn concepts until he has the necessary maturity.

3. At least in geographic and sociological portions of the social studies curriculum concrete experiences are important in concept formation.

4. Location, community size, and ethnic origins are not factors that would require special curricula or methodologies in order for students to conceive an understanding of nationalism.

5. It would be difficult for students to work with curricula which introduced abstract social studies concepts below the fourth grade or about ten years of age.