Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Dissertation (UNI Access Only)


The experiences students have in the classroom can drastically vary depending on the instructional practices the teacher chooses. Instructional approaches can span from teacher-directed to learner-centered. Learner-centered instructional practices are best defined as instruction that includes an open-ended learning approach driven by inquiry that allows all students to be included and immersed into learning in personal and authentic ways. While individual teachers plan and implement instructional practices, often these decisions are influenced by the educational system in which they belong. Current educational research demonstrates the positive effects of learner-centered instructional practices and that teachers’ philosophies align with this approach, but the research also demonstrates a gap between the existing literature and philosophies and classroom practices. The purpose of this study was to examine the gap that exists between theory and practice in the classroom.

A mixed method research design was used to examine the research questions. The qualitative portion of the study included focus group interviews. Survey information included quantitative data regarding implementation of learner-centered instruction according to the Characteristics of Effective Instruction was analyzed and used as a comparison to the qualitative data. In addition to the quantitative data gathered on the survey, additional qualitative data was also collected to get a deeper understanding of how often the teacher met with their professional learning community, worked with an instructional coach, and engaged in learner-centered professional development. The data collected was analyzed using Grounded Theory and Constant Comparison, as well as descriptive statistics. Results indicated the emergence of an understanding of learner- iii centered instructional practices and a need for a system approach to shift instructional practices.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Soh Meacham, Chair, Dissertation Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xii 132 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download