Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Swars Auslander

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Z. Smith


Teacher performance assessments such as edTPA are increasing in use during teacher preparation programs as a means of evaluating teacher candidates’ instructional effectiveness and readiness for their own classrooms. This study was conducted in one of a growing number of states in the United States requiring successful completion of edTPA for initial teacher certifica- tion. Given edTPA’s recent implementation and high stakes nature, along with uncertainty about expectations for completion and success, careful scrutiny of the effects of the assessment on teacher candidates is warranted. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the lived experiences of elementary teacher candidates completing Elementary Education edTPA: Assessing Students’ Mathematics Learning (i.e., Math Task 4) during their student teaching se- mester. The study took place at a large, urban university in the southeastern United States in an Elementary Education teacher preparation program. Six teacher candidates were selected to par- ticipate in the study. Data were collected across the student teaching semester via a series of indi- vidual, phenomenological interviews during specific phases of the completion of Math Task 4 (during planning, implementation, and submission; and after receiving the score). The findings

of this phenomenological study suggest teacher candidates found themselves in a state of elu- siveness as they prepared for and completed Math Task 4. Whole-Part-Whole analysis was used to illuminate three themes as the structure for elusiveness: (a)struggling to stabilize Math Task 4, (b) trying to find their fit in a dismantled hierarchy, and (c) teaching on demand. Each of these themes yielded associated characteristics contributing to the teacher candidates’ experiences of elusiveness during Math Task 4. The findings provide insights into ways of supporting teacher candidates as they navigate edTPA completion.