Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

5-2009

Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Brendefur

Abstract

Professional development, like a sea of changing tides, ebbs and flows through a myriad of professional trends. Some of these trends have disenfranchised teachers from the core of professional learning while others have empowered teachers to confront change with passion and courage. As collaboration continues to gain popularity as an empowering and effective route to professional learning, scrutinizing the effects of professional development on teacher discourse will ensure desired outcomes are achieved.

While collaboration holds the power to break down some of the isolation that exists in the teaching profession, talk alone, void of inquiry and reflection, will not necessarily lead to school improvement, pedagogical evolution, or improved learning experiences for students. Working on the belief that these are necessary targets in professional development, this qualitative study investigated what ways, if any, teacher collaborative discourse differed considering various levels of professional development teachers had received.

Four independent focus groups, each consisting of teachers who had participated in varying types of professional learning, collaboratively discussed instruction they viewed of an unknown model teacher and instruction of a peer. Participants’ discussions were analyzed using coding tools which provided identifiers for two tiers of data - Statement Types and Discourse Types. These codes helped identify frequency patterns of inquiry, reflection, and other statement and discourse types within each group, suggesting the need for professional developers and policy makers to provide intentional opportunities in teacher learning for practitioners to engage in inquiry and reflection if these are desired outcomes of professional development endeavors.

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