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Title:“Grass doesn’t grow faster because you pull it”: The way and the journey of becoming an inquiry teacher
Author(s):Cordoba, Tanya Espinosa
Director of Research:Smith, Stephanie S
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Smith, Stephanie S
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bresler, Liora; Parsons, Marilyn J; McBride, Brent
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Inquiry learning, inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, Dewey, progressive education, Reggio Emilia approach, project approach, Katz, emergent curriculum, early childhood education, elementary, novice teachers,
Abstract:There is a need to prepare teachers for a changing educational landscape as more schools and states are adopting and mandating the use of inquiry-based instruction alongside curricular mandates (ISBE, 2017a, 2017b; National Research Council, 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013). This study brings into focus novice teachers’ inquiry stances with regard to coconstructed practices such as inquiry-based learning and pedagogical documentation. Additional empirical understandings about how novice teachers engage with inquiry-based pedagogies will inform education initiatives geared at promoting inquiry practices. I adopted a Deweyan (1904, 1933, 1938a) theoretical framework using his theories of teacher growth, inquiry, and progressive education as a means of engaging with and viewing the empirical realities faced by teachers new to inquiry teaching. I used an embedded case study design to look closely at three individual novice teachers’ learning and inquiry stances within a single case K-1 classroom that included the mentor teacher and 21 children aged 5-7. My fieldwork took place across 6 months as two new co-teachers and a student teacher were mentored by an experienced head teacher. Data included observations of the classroom and teacher meetings, interviews, and artifacts to answer the following questions: 1. How do messages novice teachers receive from the head teacher and school context communicate what was valued inside the K-1 inquiry classroom? 2. How do these novice teachers become inquiry teachers and show and develop dispositions and habits of reflective thinking as they implement an inquiry-based emergent curriculum? 3. How do these novice teachers use their practice of documentation to see, think, wonder, investigate, and act? My analysis of the data shows a strong mirroring effect between social-emotional, intellectual, and academic learning found at the level of the children and the novice teachers. This shared core curriculum uncovered prerequisites like self and social awareness and dispositions for and habits of reflective thinking needed for student learning through inquiry and teachers learning to implement inquiry. The academic learning gained by novice teachers included theory, pedagogical methods, and subject matter. While the content of academic learning was naturally different than the children’s, how academics intersected and were learned alongside the social-emotional and intellectual curriculum held steady between children and novice teachers. Although the core curriculum of social-emotional, intellectual, and academic learning was presented to all the novice teachers by the head teacher, each novice teacher interacted with the three elements in different ways and to varying degrees and were differentially supported in their individual learning journeys. I discovered documentation was closely linked to the intellectual and academic curriculum of becoming an inquiry teacher. Novice teachers’ documentation practice also supported their social-emotional learning, as seen in each’s personal significant inquiry.
Issue Date:2020-05-06
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/107988
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Tanya Espinosa Cordoba
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05


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