Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

William H. Green

Second Advisor

George H. Akers

Third Advisor

Richard T. Orrison


Problem. Many educational foundations scholars claim that teacher education programs focus on the how of instruction (student teaching and methods courses) instead of the why of education (foundations studies), and that preservice teachers’ pre-college perspectives about education are not questionned or challenged. Their programs’ foundations studies have made little or no impact on preservice teachers.

Method. An interview-based case study methodology was employed and Schwab’s (1978) concept of the four "commonplaces" of education (teacher, student, curriculum, and context) was used to categorize questions about the meaning and purpose of education. Nine interviewees were selected from among students in two teacher education programs in the midwestem part of the United States. In the first two interviews, open-ended, semi-structured questions were used to explore the interviewees’ backgrounds; families, growing-up years, K-12 experiences, ideas about the commonplaces of education, and teacher education programs. The third interview focused on the use of matching and multiple choice questions to probe where the interviewees would look for answers to what are called the "commonplace questions"—inquiries into the meaning and purpose of the four commonplaces.

Results. Foundations studies are on the periphery of the interviewees’ consciousness. The real core of their programs is student teaching, teaching methods courses, and psychology-type courses. However, when introduced to the philosophical commonplace questions, the interviewees’ responses indicated they consider foundations studies useful, but not central, in answering those questions.

Conclusions. Preservice teachers will consult foundations materials for answers to the commonplace questions if their perceptions of the commonplaces of education are challenged or unsettled. Foundations studies will prove themselves a vital and cherished part of teacher education programs only if it can be demonstrated that educational issues are far more complex than preservice teachers think.

Subject Area

Teachers--Training of, Education--Study and teaching, Teaching.

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