Negotiating Authority in an Undergraduate Teacher Education Course : A Qualitative Investigation

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education and Human Services


Educational Foundations

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Tamara Lucas

Committee Member

Maughn Gregory

Committee Member

Cindy Onore

Committee Member

Monica Taylor


Understanding how authority is negotiated in teacher education classrooms can inform efforts to foster democratic teacher education practices and prepare future teachers to teach democratically. We know very little, however, about how authority is negotiated in different classroom contexts, particularly in teacher education settings. This qualitative study examined how authority was negotiated in an undergraduate teacher education course in which I—as the teacher of the course—implemented pedagogical strategies intended to purposefully and explicitly negotiate authority. The findings suggest that, as I had hoped and intended, authority was negotiated through three processes: designing individualized grading contracts, jointly constructing the course curriculum, and cultivating a classroom community of inquiry. While involving students in actively defining the content, method and assessment of their learning illustrated multiple criteria of democratic authority, our efforts were continually undermined by students' deeply rooted familiarity with authoritarian classroom practices. The complex interplay of these countervailing forces highlights the importance of negotiating authority in a systematic fashion, diversifying pedagogical practices in collaboration with colleagues, and reconstructing conventional conceptions of teaching to reflect democratic ideals—while further investigating the complexity of negotiatory practices in classroom contexts.


Print version available at Sprague Library.

Full text available at ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global

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