UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How do teachers construct an understanding of teaching? Skipper, Peter Gordon


This mixed methods study examined the teaching perspectives of 14 teachers and how they constructed their understanding of teaching. During the 2012-2013 school year interviews and an online survey were administered to these 14 teachers employed in two school districts and one private school in British Columbia. The teachers varied in terms of gender, years of experience and levels of grades taught. The study was conducted in two phases: a Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) survey was followed by interviews. The TPI results described the dominant teaching perspectives of each teacher as transmission, apprenticeship, developmental, nurturing or social reform. The interview data then helped explore teachers' personal, educational and teaching experiences and the way they shaped those dominant teaching perspectives. The research was conceptualized and guided by a constructivist approach. Social reality is created by individuals to explain their experiences and is influenced by what an individual brings to such experiences. Conceptual lenses interpret what you see. The study was framed by the dimensions of examining teaching as a process of expertise, of interdependence, judgment and the self-expression needs of teachers. Study findings highlighted the multifaceted problem solving contextual nature of teaching in shaping understanding as an improvisational experience towards ideals that may change over time. Such experiences ultimately favored collegially centered relationships with co-constructed learning support opportunities with other trusted educators. The identity or understanding of what is good teaching is not fixed over time and developing awareness is a matter of reflexive practice and accumulating experience. Teaching is not simple acts of productivity but productive acts of thinking to celebrate both emotional and intellectual ends.

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