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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Gretchen Rumohr Voskuil
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Adoption and Integration of Best Practice Methods in Secondary English Teaching
Dr. Allen Webb, Chair
Dr. Karen Vocke
Dr. Jonathan Bush
Dr. Leila Christenbury
Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
2033 Brown Hall
Commencing with a critical examination of the history and rhetorical force of the term "best practice," this dissertation undertakes a qualitative study of three secondary English teachers, considering their adoption and integration of best practice methods. The subjects, represented by urban, suburban and rural secondary schools, are National Writing Project participants identified as "exemplary teachers" by a NWP site director. "Best practice" methods analyzed include the process model for the teaching of writing and literature, student decision-making, and a low-risk writing environment. Factors that are found to influence the adoption of best practice methods include undergraduate and preservice experiences, intern teaching, self-reflection, school administration, graduate-level methods courses, commercial curricula, professional literature, modeling, metacognition, and a constructivist or objectivist world view. Drawing on Joyce and Showers' continuum of levels of transfer, the subjects' classroom practices are analyzed to consider the transfer of knowledge across pedagogical practice, or what Joyce and Showers term "integrated use." This study found that the adoption of a "best practice" method does not necessarily result in its integration into other areas of classroom teaching, but that factors such as a writer-as-teacher and reader-as-teacher identity formation, metacognition and knowledge-based world view increase the likelihood of integration. Considering these findings, the study concludes with implications for relevant areas of the field, including paradigm shifts, teacher training, school administration, and the National Writing Project.