Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Melodee Landis


Hight school students (grades 9-12) lack knowledge of and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution, especially First Amendment rights, according to numerous surveys (First Amendment Center [FAC], 2004, 2005; Knight Foundation, 2005; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 1999). A review of literature about this problem reveals consistently low test scores, attempts to explain the causes of these scores, and current programs meant to raise them. However, very little research relates to specific studies of the reasons why these scores are low. Do students simply not car? Do they not remember details about these rights? The purpose of this study was to begin to identify common causes for these scores, which will help to elicit further studies leading to solutions. Over 50 students were asked about these findings on questionnaires, and 17 students were interviewed in 4 focus groups. The most common explanation for the low national survey scores were a lack of detailed knowledge about the First Amendment and a lack of concern because their rights are not threatened. The findings also indicated that classroom solutions such as simulations that deprive students of their rights and discussion of real-world situations might help spark student interest in First Amendment studies.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Teacher Education and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Joanne Chapuran February 6, 2007