Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Second Advisor

Dr. D. Eric Archer

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Sell


Professional development, instructional coaching, lesson planning process, teacher training, education, educational leadership


School districts across the country are facing increasing pressure to raise student achievement, specifically on state standardized tests (Buzick & Jones, 2015; Marsh & Farrell, 2015). Many states, including Michigan, connect teacher and administrator evaluations to student achievement (Revised School Code Act 451, 2003). The primary strategy school districts use to improve student achievement is professional development for its staff (Guskey, 2009). Professional development can consist of a variety of strategies to support educators in increasing their knowledge and skills, resulting in improved instruction and ultimately improved student achievement. This instrumental case study sought to explore how teachers experience the lesson planning process after participating in the professional development activity of instructional coaching. Their experience includes their cognitive process while planning lessons and how they apply what they learned from the instructional coaching sessions.

The challenge necessitating this study is great. As stated, professional development is the primary strategy districts use to implement change; yet there is little “valid and scientifically defensible” research to support the characteristics of professional development that improve student achievement (Guskey, 2009). The findings of the current qualitative study suggest that the professional development activity of instructional coaching plays a central role in the cognitive process of lesson planning for teachers who participate in it. The study was conducted at a single school in a Midwestern state using interviews and observations of instructional coaching sessions of three teachers and one instructional coach, along with interviews of teachers after coaching sessions. Of the 13 emergent themes of the study, 11 aligned to previous research findings and two themes were new. The major findings of this study are as follows: (1) teachers change the cognitive processes used for lesson planning in consideration of the instructional strategies and resources shared by the instructional coach; (2) instructional coaches use instructional unit planning as a way to incorporate strategies that improve student improvement; (3) teachers select new practices to incorporate into their lesson plans that they anticipate will lead to increased student ability to complete assignments independently; (4) teachers demonstrate increased structure in their daily lesson plans and long-term plans of instruction after participating in instructional coaching; (5) teachers express more confidence in the lesson planning process after participating in instructional coaching; and (6) teachers demonstrate repeated use of instructional strategies provided by or created with the instructional coach over an extended amount of time.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access