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Title page for ETD etd-07082009-104415

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hathaway, Jennifer I.
URN etd-07082009-104415
Title Starting Where Teachers Are: The Influence of Beliefs in the Literacy Coaching Relationship
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Victoria J. Risko Committee Chair
Brooke Ackerly Committee Member
Carin Neitzel Committee Member
Deborah W. Rowe Committee Member
  • professional development
  • teacher training
  • elementary
  • reading
  • reading specialist
  • qualitative
  • case study
  • teachers' beliefs
  • literacy coaching
Date of Defense 2009-06-04
Availability unrestricted
The study investigated the impact of teachers’ literacy-related beliefs on their participation in the professional development setting of literacy coaching. It also expanded current theoretical understandings regarding the nature of beliefs by investigating how teacher held their beliefs. This study used a qualitative, multiple case study approach to examine both teachers’ stated beliefs and their beliefs in action. The study was situated in an elementary school in a metropolitan district in the Southern United States. The reading specialist had 8 years of teaching experience, 3 of those in the position of reading specialist. The 3 teachers had 3 to 7 years of teaching experience. Data collection occurred over a 7 month period with the primary methods for collecting data being interviewing, observation, surveying, and written vision statements. Data were analyzed using a constant comparative method and cross-case analysis.

Overall, the reading specialist and teachers held similar views of literacy and instruction, though their individual interpretations of educational ideas (i.e., facilitation) varied greatly despite the use of a common set of language. A range of evidence undergirded their beliefs. Data analysis also allowed for the identification of beliefs that were held more or less centrally by the teachers, offering a process for examining teachers’ talk about their work as a way to hypothesize the relative centrality of their beliefs helping to advance understandings of how beliefs are held and ways to uncover this through educational research.

The teachers’ specific beliefs about literacy instruction impacted their coaching interactions. All teachers held central beliefs that contradicted the practices discussed during their coaching interactions. At times, these differences in belief were addressed while at other times they were not recognized or challenged. Overall, only 1 of the teachers took up new ideas offered in coaching. Finally, the reading specialist’s beliefs about her role as a coach and the purpose of coaching impacted her participation. She focused on affective aspects of coaching and developed specific strategies for considering teachers’ unique needs.

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