Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

12-2008

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Louise L. MacKay, James H. Lampley, Elizabeth Ralston

Abstract

This mixed-methods study explored the instructional methods that accomplished high school English teachers use in their classrooms to improve understanding of how those methods are influenced by the teachers' beliefs. A survey regarding classroom practices and beliefs was sent to 313 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) in English Language Arts--Adolescence and Young Adulthood across the United States with a response rate of 50.8%. From these data, I analyzed the variety and frequency of practices experienced teachers use and the beliefs that influence teachers' instructional decisions. I then conducted follow-up interviews and classroom observations with selected survey participants from North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio and explored further the beliefs and motivations of those teachers who were both typical and outlying according to their survey responses.

The study found that factors such as school setting, educational level, and gender had little impact on teachers' instructional strategies, although a relationship was found between gender and approach to teaching literature. The study also found that reading instruction dominated the classroom instruction of those teachers, with writing instruction a distant second. In addition, those NBCTs were found to be teachers who developed positive relationships with students, created student-centered classrooms, challenged students academically, and were dedicated to being lifelong learners. In the end, 3 distinct teacher types were identified: teachers who focus on English as a discipline, teachers who focus on more generalized educational goals, and teachers who focus on their students' emotional well-being. However, the study suggests that all the teachers who participated in the study formed a fairly homogenous group regardless of their differences and that teachers' own educational experiences in school played a more significant role in determining their classroom behaviors than did their educational beliefs.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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