Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Second Advisor

Dr. Larry Blackmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves


Since 1987, over 55,000 teachers have achieved National Board Certification (NBC), which is claimed to be the highest symbol of teaching excellence and an identifier of accomplished teaching. To become certified, teachers must demonstrate a clear understanding of rigorous standards as defined by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

This phenomenological study examined ten Michigan elementary National Board Certified Teachers and candidates in hopes of better understanding the roles that motivation, support and pressure played in their decisions to seek NBC, and the influence the process had on their teaching. Four critical findings were identified.

The first critical finding of this study indicates that NBC candidates are effective teachers, life-long learners, and pioneers. They are confident, accomplished teachers with a desire to improve. Using reflective practices in their teaching and have a strong understanding of the needs of their students. By making the choice to become National Board teachers, these teachers have become pioneers in their districts and schools.

Another critical finding indicates that NBC candidates want validation and are driven by internal motivation. They are highly motivated to become NBCTs, driven by internal factors. Regardless of external motivators or pressures from financial incentives or federal requirements, they want to improve as teachers and are willing to take on the rigorous challenge.

The next critical finding is that informal support and collegiality play a critical role in NBC certification process. NBC candidates view informal support as a vital element in their pursuit of certification and strongly believe that more formal candidate support in Michigan is needed. As NBCT's, many of them work as mentors themselves and are working towards creating a stronger support network throughout the state.

The final critical finding of this study indicates that NBC candidates believe the certification process validates their teaching practices and enhances their teaching. They view the certification process as one of the most valuable professional development opportunities available to teachers and believe the experience results in a renewed effort and refreshed commitment to better teaching.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access