Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Literacy--Iowa; Student-centered learning--Iowa: Reading (Elementary)--Iowa;


In this qualitative study, I examined and interpreted the literacy instruction of a fourth grade instructor who identified herself as a student-centered teacher. I sought to understand and interpret the beliefs and attitudes of my participant, Julie. Through seven unstructured interviews and five observations, I collected, and simultaneously interpreted, data. Julie freely shared her beliefs, successes, challenges, and frustrations regarding her literacy instruction.

Because of the contextual nature of the study I sought emerging themes through analysis and reflection. Four themes surfaced: attitude and philosophy, environment, instructional practices, and impact on students. Julie possessed an attitude that all students could learn and believed in creating a community of acceptance. She worked to build a positive, productive environment for all students, free of labels. Julie's instructional practices focused on motivating students to take responsibility for learning. She used formative assessment to create flexible, fluid groups, avoiding fixed ability groups. All of Julie's students experienced academic growth as measured by district mandated assessments. In addition to academic growth, Julie's students engaged in the learning process, rediscovering lost curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Students that saw themselves as less worthy than their peers found their voices and recognized their strengths as a result of Julie's teaching practices and encouragement.

The study offers implications for educators. Among them is the important role formative assessment plays in learning. In addition, relinquishing control of learning to students offers motivation and engagement on their part.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Victoria Robinson

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 126 pages)



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