Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Dissertation (UNI Access Only)


Student teachers--Training of--Iowa; Literacy--Iowa;


Using qualitative research techniques, the researcher explored preservice teacher learning among traditional college-age students engaged in a semester-long early field experience in an urban elementary school within a Literacy Education Professional Development School (LEPrDS) cohort setting.

The purpose of this study was two-fold: (a) to explore preservice teachers' evolving knowledge construction regarding teaching and the teacher's role and (b) to examine preservice teachers' professional growth from a community of practice perspective. From a community of practice perspective, traditional college-age preservice teachers were studied in terms of how they defined the teacher's role, what challenges they faced during their field experience, and how they and other members of their cohort community both interacted with and learned from and alongside each other. Four female preservice teachers participated in the study. Semi-structured qualitative interviews (Mason, 1996), together with participants' personal narratives in the form of audio diary entries, provided much of the data for the study. Extracts from participants' clinical coursework (especially the Reflection and Self-Evaluation component of their Teacher Work Sample) provided a further source of data.

The process of data transformation, or the progression from organizing data to making sense of it, broadly followed Wolcott's (1994) ethnographic approach that calls for description, analysis, and interpretation. Findings indicated that all of the study participants underwent some shift in their understanding of what it means to be a teacher in the course of their LEPrDS activities. The experiences that proved to be most powerful were those in which the preservice teachers were most fully engaged, on both a personal and a professional level, in carrying out authentic teacher tasks that directed their attention away from their own concerns towards the social, emotional, and intellectual needs of the elementary students with whom they interacted. They found the practical help and emotional support needed to plan, complete, and reflect on these tasks in the extended learning community that developed over time among themselves and their fellow cohort members, embedded professors, and faculty and staff members in the school.

Implications for practice for preservice teachers included: (1) openness to new ideas about teaching and the teacher's role; (2) a readiness to embrace the challenges of unfamiliar classrooms; (3) learning about the teacher's role beyond the classroom; and (4) active participation in a community of learners. Implications for teacher educators included: (1) alertness to potential personality clashes when making clinical placements; (2) regular, hands-on experience in area field experience schools; (3) developing and maintaining strong, mutually-beneficial school-university partnerships; and (4) encouraging preservice teachers to recognize and experience the multiple roles and responsibilities of teachers inside and outside the classroom.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Linda May Fitzgerald, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xviii, 670 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download