Date of Award

4-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Bush

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Brockman

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Piazza

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Karen Vocke

Abstract

This study, situated within the fields of English education and writing teacher education, illustrates not only what is happening in writing methods courses but why in its examination of writing methods courses and instructor influences. The writing methods course is identified by English educators and writing teacher educators as “pivotal” in K-12 English teacher preparation, and the purpose of this study is to better understand multiple versions of this course and how teacher influences affect the design and implementation of the course (Grossman, 1990; Smagorinsky and Whiting, 1995; McCann, 2005).

This study builds upon scholarship that explores individual versions of writing methods courses and one study that provides overviews of multiple English methods courses (Cole, 1967; Foy, 1964; Gebhardt, 1977; Marshall, 1997; Nemanich, 1973; Reid 2009; Smagorinsky and Whiting, 1995). This study extends this research by offering detailed portraits of writing methods courses and in-depth illustrations of teacher influences on the course. In providing detailed portraits of writing methods courses, this study responds to calls within writing teacher education, specifically, for more research into K-12 writing teacher preparation and writing methods courses (Brockman & Lindblom, 2012; Bush, 2012; Tremmel and Broz, 2002; Tremmel & Tremmel, 2012).

The discussion and analysis of these detailed course portraits includes ‘common key characteristics’ across courses and ‘distinguishing features’ of individual courses. This analysis provides a model for writing teacher educators’ own self-assessment of their courses and illustrates for K-12 teachers, administrators, and educational policy-makers the content and practices that prepare prospective K-12 English teachers.

Another major outcome of this study is a framework for exploring, understanding, and reflecting upon teacher influences as related to practice. This framework is applied to the participants of this study and identifies three strands that contribute to instructors’ teaching experiences: professional journey, teaching context, and theoretical frames. This framework, extending research into concepts of “pedagogical content knowledge” as defined by Grossman (1990) and “theoretical frameworks” as defined by Dewey (1916), is a tool for inquiring, understanding, and reflecting on the teaching practice of not only writing methods instructors, but of teachers of all disciplines and at all levels.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access