Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Teacher Education and Teacher Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Michele Knobel

Committee Member

Jeremy Price

Committee Member

Emily Hodge


This small qualitative research study examined the role of the reflective supports a teacher-researcher explicitly put in place in order to explore the usefulness of these supports in a graduate course taught to a group of in-service literacy teachers. More specifically, this study examined how nine in-service literacy teacher/graduate level students considered and analyzed and reflected in light of the context of their own classrooms in their unique school contexts and, furthermore, how they engaged in social action, or acts which take into account the actions and reactions of others, in the graduate course in creating a revised or reconstructed approach to the situation under study in a process best described as teacher reflective practice. The teacher-researcher was also committed, at the same time, to engage in self-reflection with respect to his own role, assumptions, and expectations as a teacher educator and teacher researcher of reflective practice.

A situated cognition framework was used to build on reconstructivist theorizations of reflection by examining contexts as social contexts. In turn, the goal was to find research-based answers to the following research question:

What supports do in-service literacy teachers (as well as the in-service literacy teacher educator) appear to find useful reflection-wise in a Masters reading course that focuses on building literacy teacher reflective practice?

A benchmark for teacher reflective practice was developed (i.e., a teacher’s social action to analyze multiple contexts, identify a problem, and reapproach the situation with context in mind). Furthermore, two themes emerged from the analysis of data as follows: (1) writing prompts and shared experiences in low-stakes online discussion writing seemed to contribute most directly to the in-service literacy teachers’ reflective practice, and (2) despite the teacherresearcher’s best intentions, the in-service literacy teachers participated in a life-like (rather than “real-life”) or mock, low-stakes approach to reflective practice for high stakes grades. Close analysis of reflective practice enlarged the teacher-researcher’s understanding of reflective practice in the following ways: (1) explicit prompting and the impetus for students to share their written reflections with other members of the class proved significant, where students’ online discussion board postings (i.e., written reflections) showed strong patterns of the following dimensions: narrative interpretation, slight risk-taking moves, and student collegiality; and (2) whereas a strong pattern of “inauthentic authenticity” questioned the merit of the literacy teacher reflective practice in the graduate course content, dimensions of this theme showed that the graduate coursework was used as a “crutch” or a “scapegoat” to complete the graded course assignments, where the assignment-driven nature gave students an impetus to catalyze leadership and collaboration as they identified and reapproached real-life problems in their in-service school contexts with in-service colleagues.

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