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Faculty/Staff Directory

Department of Educator Preparation and Leadership

Laura Westhoff is an associate professor specializing in the fields of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, American Democracy and Social movements, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning History (SoTL), and the History of Education.  She is the author A Fatal Drifting Apart:  Democratic Social Knowledge and Chicago Reform (2007) which examines social constructions of knowledge and the emerging tensions between democracy and expertise in modern America, and is currently working on a book on mid-twentieth century democratic practices, titled Educating for Activism.  You can find her articles published in the Journal of American History, The Magazine of History, The History Teacher, Women’s History Review, and the History of Education Quarterly.  Her current editorial responsibilities include serving as co-editor of the Textbooks and Teaching Section of the Journal of American History and on the editorial board for the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.   As a joint appointment in the College of Education at UMSL and the History Department, Dr. Westhoff is committed to advancing history education at all levels. She is active in social studies certification at UMSL, has served as co-author and lead historian on several Teaching American History grants, and is a frequent presenter at history workshops and colloquia for teachers.  She serves as the faculty coordinator for the Student Teaching in China program.

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(314) 516-5692


468 Lucas Hall

Fields of interest:

  • Gilded Age and Progressive Era America
  • History Education
  • Social Reform and Social Movements
  • American Women's History

Major publications:

  • “Expertise and Local Knowledge at Highlander Research and Education Center” for edited volume, Appreciating Local Knowledges, Cambridge University Scholars Press, forthcoming Winter 2014.
  • “The Answers Come from the People: Participatory Democracy at Highlander Folk School” for edited volume, "Schools of Tomorrow, Schools of Today: What  Happened to Progressive Education," second edition, Susan Semel and Alan Sadovnik, eds. Peter Lang Publishing, forthcoming 2014.
  • “A Perfect Storm and the U.S. History Survey,” Magazine of History v. 27, n. 3 July 2013.
  •  “Seeing Through the Eyes of a Teacher: U.S. History for the Secondary Classroom,” History Teacher, v. 45, n. 4 (August 2012), 533-550.
  • “Historiographic Mapping: A Signature Pedagogy for the Methods Course,” Journal of American History v. 98, n. 4(March 2012), 1114-1126.
  • "Developing preservice teachers' pedagogical content knowledge about historical
    Thinking" International Journal of Social Education, Volume 22, Number 2 Fall-Winter 2007-2008
  • A Fatal Drifting Apart: Democratic Social Knowledge and Chicago Reform (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2007)
  • "The Historian's Role in Teacher Education," Perspectives, September 2006.
    "Education and Social Movements" in Encyclopedia of the Midwest (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2007), 806-809.
  • "The Popularization of Knowledge: John Dewey on Experts and American Democracy," History of Education Quarterly 35 (1): 27-48

Current research:

  • "Educating for Activism" a study of mid-twentieth century American democratic and social justice movements