Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Allen Webb


Commencing with a critical examination of the history and rhetorical force of the term "best practice," this dissertation undertakes a qualitative study of three secondary English teachers, considering their adoption and integration of best practice methods. The subjects, represented by urban, suburban and rural secondary schools, were National Writing Project participants identified as "exemplary teachers" by a NWP site director. "Best practice" methods analyzed included the process model for the teaching of writing and literature, student decision-making, and a low-risk writing environment. Factors that were found to influence the adoption of best practice methods included undergraduate and preservice experiences, intern teaching, self-reflection, school administration, graduate-level methods courses, commercial curricula, professional literature, modeling, metacognition, and a constructivist or objectivist world view. Drawing on Joyce and Showers' continuum of levels of transfer, the subjects' classroom practices were analyzed to consider the transfer of knowledge across pedagogical practice, or what Joyce and Showers term "integrated use." This study found that the adoption of a "best practice" method does not necessarily result in its integration into other areas of classroom teaching, but that factors such as a writer-as-teacher and reader-as-teacher identity formation, metacognition and knowledge-based world view increased the likelihood of integration. Considering these findings, the study concludes with implications for relevant areas of the field, including paradigm shifts, teacher training, school administration, and the National Writing Project.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access