Date of Award

Summer 7-12-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Dana L. Fox

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Ariail

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary P. Deming

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Marti Singer

Abstract

In October 2009, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared in a speech to Columbia University’s Teacher’s College that many university teacher preparation programs are outdated and must undergo major reform in order to produce high quality teachers needed to improve academic achievement for all students (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Duncan stated that “America’s university-based teacher preparation programs need revolutionary change – not evolutionary tinkering” (U.S. Department of Education, 2009, p.2). To improve student success in the classroom, policy makers must understand the key role well-trained teachers play in achieving this goal (Boyd, Lankford, Clothfelter, Ladd & Vigdor, 2004; Loeb, Rockoff, & Wyckoff, 2007; Provasnik & Young, 2003; Rice, 2003; Rivers & Sanders, 2002).

This study examined the specific aspects of an English teacher preparation program that beginning teachers implement and rely on in their classrooms on a consistent basis. In addition, this study examines how administrators/department chairs view the pedagogical competence of graduates from the English teacher preparation program. The research questions that guided this study are: (1) How do beginning teachers perceive their preparation for teaching in the urban English Language Arts classroom? (2) How do school administrators perceive the teaching ability of graduates?

The participants were graduates of Southern Urban University’s English Education Master’s level program from 2005 – 2008. Data sources included Beginning Teacher Questionnaires, Administrator/Department Chair Questionnaires, in-depth phenomenological interviews with select teachers, observations of select teachers’ practice, “card sort” activity/interview, teacher artifacts and photographs. Data were analyzed inductively using the constant comparative method to determine categories and themes (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Trustworthiness was established through research methods that confirm credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). This study provides insight into how to better educate high quality teachers through the examination of an English teacher preparation programs’ daily effect and impact on their graduates and an examination of school administrators’/department chairs perception of these graduates’ performance in the classroom.

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