Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia L. Reeves


This retrospective critical case study was conducted to learn more about teacher perceptions of deep, systemic change experiences. This study examined the successful implementation of a balanced literacy program at one Title I elementary school several years after completion of the implementation period. Participants were teachers who reflected on their experiences with the balanced literacy initiative implementation and discussed personal change associated with their experiences. Analysis isolated elements of teachers' recollected experience and compared those elements with factors that previous research has associated with successful change. Additionally, this study explored the lasting effects the experience of being a part of a deep, systemic change had on the study participants.

Data collected through focus groups, individual interviews, and written narratives, were transcribed, coded, and analyzed inductively for indigenous themes and subthemes and deductively for themes and subthemes related to personal change and to Meister's (2000) five elements that support implementation of change. Inductive analysis yielded the distinct indigenous themes of teacher empowerment, time, and building culture. Deductive analysis for themes of personal change yielded findings of change associated with new learning, changes in assumptions and beliefs, and changes in practice. The deductive analysis against Meister's lens of five elements associated with deep systemic change (vision, collaboration, professional development, leadership, and the assessment of change) yielded subthemes and points of emphasis that both aligned with and extended Meister's framework.

The results of this study confirmed, clarified, or extended each of the elements of Meister's lens as they all were prominent in the data. Building culture characterized by broad-based shared ownership was a significant overarching theme that permeated the results of this study and provided both clarity and extension to Meister's five factors. This study adds to the literature on implementation of deep, systemic change by isolating the importance of a culture of shared ownership and teacher empowerment.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access