Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Becoming a Mentor Learner: A Qualitative Study of Three Public High School Teachers
by Spann, Kristy M., Ph.D., Oakland University, 2020, 236; 27830693
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative, exploratory multiple case study investigated the factors impacting the development of three public high school teachers in the Midwest of the United States who teach primarily as critical pedagogues. These teachers were, themselves, learners who encouraged their students to critically question the source of their knowing and thus created classes rich with dialogue, and who simultaneously mentored their students in the joy of learning. These teachers embodied what is defined in this study as mentor learner. The three theoretical frameworks used to think about this type of teaching include: Paulo Freire’s (1970/2000) critical pedagogy; bell hooks’ (1994) engaged pedagogy; and Gloria Ladson-Billings’s (2009) culturally relevant teaching.

The main purpose of this study was to answer these two questions: What are the characteristics of mentor learners? And what factors in these teachers’ lives supported the development of these characteristics? The data include three, in-depth interviews with each of the three public high school teachers, observation of one English class taught by each participant, and a focus group with students from each of the observed classes. Transcripts were coded for a priori and emergent categories, identifying themes and patterns.

The following four traits emerged as shared attributes across the participants: dialogue-rich classrooms in the forms of perspective-taking and making thinking visible; space for student voice and agency; positive student-teacher relationships; and the role of safety, defined as able to be vulnerable, welcome, and empowered, as well as existing on a continuum. The development of these characteristics was rooted in these teachers’ beliefs about democracy and the role education plays in supporting it; the use of a philosophical lens to guide their planning and teaching; former teachers of the participants who inspired them; and their ability to consider many situations as dilemmas. The findings have implications for teacher preparation programs and professional learning topics and goals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carver, Cynthia L.
Commitee: Leigh, S. Rebecca, Nidiffer, Jana
School: Oakland University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Michigan
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Pedagogy, Secondary education, Teacher education
Keywords: Critical pedagogy, Engaged pedagogy, Teacher education, High school teachers
Publication Number: 27830693
ISBN: 9798664724448
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