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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Kristen Dewitt
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Experiences of Michigan Elementary National Board Certification Candidates
Dr. Sue Poppink, Chair
Dr. Larry Blackmer
Dr. Patricia Reeves
Date: Friday, May 25, 2007 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
Since 1987, over 5,000 teachers have achieved National Board Certification. Offered on a voluntary basis, the National Board Certification is claimed to be the highest symbol of teaching excellence and an identifier of accomplished teaching. In order to become Board certified, teachers must demonstrate a clear understanding of rigorous standards as defined by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine ten Michigan elementary National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) and National Board Certified (NBC) candidates in hopes of better understanding the role that motivation, support, and pressure played in their decision to seek National Board Certification, as well as the influence the certification process had on their teaching.
A review of the literature indicated a strong connection between quality teaching, professional development and meeting student needs. It has been shown that teachers who attempt National Board Certification experience the process in different ways, for different reasons, and with varying degrees of support. Although the results of this study strongly support this research, they also identify similarities that the candidates share.
One major finding of this study indicates that candidates are highly motivated to become NBCTs, driven by internal factors. Regardless of external motivators such as financial incentives or state requirements, they want to improve as teachers and are willing to take on the rigorous and time-consuming challenge. After completing the process, they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as teachers.
The second major finding showed that regardless of the type or amount of candidate support they receive, NBC candidates view support as a vital element in their pursuit of certification and strongly believe that more candidate support in Michigan is needed. As NBCT's, many of them work as mentors themselves and are working towards creating a stronger support network throughout the state.
Finally, this study indicates that NBC candidates view the certification process as one of the most valuable professional development opportunities available to teachers. They believe the certification experience results in a renewed effort and refreshed commitment to better teaching.