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Building Teacher Learning Theory and Research in the Era of Student-Centered Instructional Reforms

Walsh, Marguerite Elizabeth (2021) Building Teacher Learning Theory and Research in the Era of Student-Centered Instructional Reforms. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Dialogic classroom discussions in which students share ideas and engage in collaborative meaning-making around complex texts are critical for achieving ambitious reading comprehension goals in primary grades (Soter et al., 2008). Despite decades of research, however, such dialogic or ‘student-centered’ instructional approaches remain rare in in K-12 classrooms (Murphy et al., 2018). One issue is that dialogic teaching practices embody an array of principles and aims that fundamentally subvert traditional notions of teaching and learning. These include, for example, epistemological assumptions about how knowledge is developed and conveyed (‘constructed’ vs. ‘transmitted’) and socially stratified norms about power and privilege in learning (Who has intellectual authority and legitimacy in academic spaces?) (Greeno, 2002). Together with the demands of learning new student-centered approaches, the deeply-entrenched nature of traditional pedagogical concepts and practices poses a daunting challenge for teacher learning and professional development.
The three studies of this dissertation address this issue by exploring ways to conceptualize and investigate the processes that facilitate robust teacher learning in the context of video-based coaching to implement dialogic text discussions in 4th and 5th grade classrooms. In Study 1, I draw on a ‘sensemaking’ theoretical lens to explore how teachers’ professional vision developed as they engaged in cycles of reflective dialogues with one expert coach. Study 2 extends this work to examine in-depth the relationship between teacher reflection and discussion practice, including the role of key factors such as teacher ‘resistance’ and hierarchical ability-related assumptions for shaping differential learning and practice outcomes. Finally, Study 3 presents a conceptual argument based on adaptive expertise to identify key developmental processes for facilitating robust teacher learning in expert-guided reflection and mental simulation as a routine for instantiating this learning practice. The goal was to leverage interdisciplinary perspectives to contribute both a well-specified theory of teacher change as well as a model to inform the on-the-ground work of practitioners engaged in similar efforts. Taken together, these studies address the ‘black box’ of teacher learning theory and research from multiple perspectives and levels of analysis- an important ‘step’ for advancing more robust and equitable teaching and learning outcomes across contexts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Walsh, Marguerite Elizabethm.walsh@pitt.edumew1380000-0002-7184-6471
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMatsumura, Lindsay Clarelclare@pitt.eduLCLARE
Committee MemberSchunn, Christian Dschunn@pitt.eduSCHUNN0000-0003-3589-297X
Committee MemberCorrenti, Richardrcorrent@pitt.eduRCORRENT0000-0002-6656-0567
Committee MemberNokes-Malach, Timothy
Date: 31 August 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 June 2021
Approval Date: 31 August 2021
Submission Date: 10 August 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 241
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Learning Sciences and Policy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: teacher reflection, dialogic classroom discussion, learning mechanisms
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2021 18:14
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 18:14


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