Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Susan D. Martin, Ph.D.


Jennifer L. Snow, Ph.D.


Vicki Stieha, Ph.D.


Sherry Dismuke, Ed.D.


During the act of teaching, teachers are faced with numerous decisions on how to best meet the varied needs of their students based on their awareness of those students’ needs. This process is encapsulated in the theory of Presence in Teaching, which includes the constructs of teacher awareness, reflection-in-action, teacher decision-making, and connections to student/teacher relationships, professional identity, and pedagogical content knowledge. This qualitative study sought to deepen current understandings of this theory through exploring how experienced teachers become aware of student needs, how they use those awarenesses to inform their decisions made during instruction, the role of reflection in making decisions, and what this process looks like to an observer. Data came from interviews, observations, journal entries, and a focus group with three experienced elementary school teachers. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to explore and describe the participants’ experiences of becoming aware and connections between their awareness and their decisions made during instruction. Findings show the participants experienced awareness of their students in four different layers, used knowledge from all of these layers to inform their decisions, and engaged in reflection-in-action when they were presented with new situations during instruction. Findings also show the participants experienced an emotional/physical and cognitive reaction to new awarenesses, and their awareness, reactions, and decisions were strongly influenced by their personal teaching philosophies. This information can help teacher educators cultivate Presence in Teaching among teacher candidates to increase responsive teaching and student learning.