Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

McIntyre, D. John


AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF JENNIFER JENSEN PRUSACZYK, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION, presented on APRIL 7, 2011, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: EPISTEMOLOGICAL CONNECTIONS TO PRE K-8 TEACHERS' DESCRIPTIONS OF GOOD TEACHING, GOOD STUDENT BEHAVIOR, AND TEACHING FOR UNDERSTANDING: A MIXED METHODS STUDY MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. D. John McIntyre A mixed methods study design was used to investigate the relationship between elementary teachers' epistemology, as measured by the Learning Context Questionnaire (Griffith & Chapman, 1982) and teachers' descriptions of good teaching, good student behaviors, and teaching for understanding. Teachers' (N = 36) descriptions were collected after they had participated in a three-year professional development program designed to assist teachers in listening to and using students' thinking. The descriptions were open coded, following the recommendations of Corbin and Strauss (1990). Each set of descriptions was coded independently. Nine emergent themes support study request one: List three things a [Pre] K- 8 teacher should do to teach mathematics for understanding. Eight emergent themes support study request two: List three things a good mathematics teacher usually does. Six emergent themes support study request three: List three things a good mathematics student usually does. This study is not a study of practice, but rather a study of the language used to describe something of value and the relationship of that language with personal epistemology. Findings indicate that based on teachers' descriptions, 75% of the teachers exhibit an awareness of reform based teaching strategies, 61% of the teachers exhibit an intention to provide reform based learning opportunities while only 44% of the teachers exhibit reform based expectations of students. Based on this sample, little support for the connection between epistemology and teachers' descriptions emerged. Furthermore, this sample exhibited no connection between general epistemology and years of teaching experience. The observation that some teachers exhibit a higher Measure of Coherence is an unexpected finding of this study and provides a foundation for future research.




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