Date of Award

1991

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

William H. Green

Second Advisor

Warren E. Minder

Third Advisor

Bruce Closser

Abstract

Problem. Using a qualitative research design this study documented the process of change experienced by four elementary teachers as they learned a direct instruction reading approach. The literature reveals that teacher implementation is affected by psychological state, school climate, and conceptual level; however, the goal of this study was to examine the effects of cognition and working conditions.

Method. The author was involved as a participant-observer with 20 volunteer teachers as they attended a three-week intensive training session which involved presentation of theory, demonstrations, practice, and feedback. In the school year immediately following the training, nine teachers implemented the ECRI (Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction) approach and four of those were studied in-depth. The context within which each teacher was operating was established by observations, interviews, and inventories. Learning style, conceptual level, operational level, and measures of working conditions were treated as contextual factors and provided the basis for pattern searching during data analysis. Teachers' response to change was established by description and interpretation of events.

Results. Responding to the training in a way similar to a cross-cultural experience, teachers' initial enthusiasm transformed to doubts, hostility, and disintegration as they encountered new ideas. Adjustments and recovery began as they adapted ECRI, learned new skills, and made connections with their previous practices. In the months following the training, characteristics of certain modal individuals (sequential and random, high and low conceptual level, and high and low operational level) became evident. The subjects used various strategies to cope with the change to ECRI and experienced change in their beliefs in spite of aspects in the teacher culture which appeared to act as obstacles to change.

Conclusions. While each teacher implemented much of the ECRI model, the findings suggest that cognitive processes vary greatly among teachers and influence the way they learn a direct instruction reading approach. Working conditions affected the implementation process in various ways. Inservice training which is broad enough to meet the needs of contrasting styles may be more successful.

Subject Area

Reading (Primary)--Direct instruction approach, Reading (Elementary)

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