Understanding the Various Influences on Special Education Pre-Service Teachers' Appropriation of Conceptual and Practical Tools for Teaching Reading

Material Information

Understanding the Various Influences on Special Education Pre-Service Teachers' Appropriation of Conceptual and Practical Tools for Teaching Reading
Leko, Melinda
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 online resource (207 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Special Education
Committee Chair:
Brownell, Mary T.
Committee Members:
Griffin, Cynthia C.
Miller, M David
Bishop, Anne
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Classrooms ( jstor )
Disabilities ( jstor )
Educational research ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Preservice teachers ( jstor )
Reading instruction ( jstor )
Special education ( jstor )
Special needs students ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )
Special Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
activity, disabilities, education, learning, pedagogical, pre, service, special, teacher, theory, tools
City of Gainesville ( local )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Special Education thesis, Ph.D.


Working under an activity theory framework, the purpose of this study was to investigate how learning experiences in special education teacher preparation programs related to teacher candidates in the context of reading instruction for struggling readers and students with disabilities. More specifically, this study examined the interactions among special education pre-service teachers, their university preparation in reading, and their practicum experiences, with the ultimate goal to understand how these interactions influenced the pre-service teachers? appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Investigating how pre-service teachers interact with their various preparatory experiences is important to understanding the extent to which teacher education makes a difference for prospective teachers. To understand the influences on special education pre-service teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools grounded theory methods were used. Six special education pre-service teachers, who taught reading to struggling readers and students with disabilities during a practicum experience, participated in the study. In addition to pre-service teachers, their practicum cooperating teachers, field supervisors, and reading methods course instructors also participated. The data sources consisted of participant interviews, videotaped classroom observations, the Reading in Special Education (RISE) observation instrument, pre and post concept maps, and prior experiences and beliefs surveys. Grounded within the data on pre-service teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, a theory emerged from three analysis phases (i.e., open, axial, and selective coding). In summary, six pre-service teachers were all affected by influences comprising individual and social context activity systems, though the extent to which these activity systems affected individual pre-service teachers varied. From the activity systems, four concepts emerged as chief mediators of pre-service teacher appropriation of tools. Of these concepts, the most important was opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice. Without such opportunities, pre-service teachers struggled to appropriate tools to higher levels. While opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice emerged as the core concept, three component concepts (a) personal qualities, (b) motivation for knowledge assimilation, and (c) access to knowledge also played a role in the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. The interactions of the core concept and the component concepts worked to either facilitate or hinder tool appropriation. In the best case, the concepts worked in positive ways, thus facilitating pre-service teachers? appropriation of tools. In this instance the interaction of supportive personal attributes, a future goal as a special educator, and a positive special education practicum experience with plentiful opportunities to situate explicit, systematic reading knowledge in practice led to high levels of tool appropriation. ( en )
General Note:
In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Adviser: Brownell, Mary T.
Electronic Access:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Melinda Leko.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Rights Management:
Copyright Leko, Melinda. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Embargo Date:
LD1780 2008 ( lcc )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text




2 2008 Melinda Marie Leko


3 To Adam It had to be you, wonderful you.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS As m y dissertation pursuit dr aws to a close, I must acknowledge the many people who supported my journey. I was blessed to share this remarkable experi ence with a myriad of family and friends. Without their unwavering love, supp ort, and encouragement, I would not have reached this pinnacle. To them, I owe them a lifetime of love and gratitude. First, I would like to thank my family members. My husband, Adam, cheered for every high point, but more importantly supported and consoled me during ever y low point. Adam was the one I turned to when I felt the challenges we re too great to overcome. I thank him for being so patient and self-sacrificing as I completed my doctorate. I thank God everyday for introducing me to the love of my life. Additionally, I want to thank my parents, Joseph and Judith Co thern. I will never forget all the sacrifices they made so that I could comple te my education. I would also like to thank my sisters, Debbie Zuknick and Me lissa Cameron, who like my parents played a large role in my upbringing. I want to thank Debbie for being a model of strength and courage in the face of obstacles. To Melissa, I owe many thanks for be ing a mentor throughout my dissertation. I also thank Kirk Cameron, my brothe r-in-law, who was a constant source of support. Finally, my nieces and nephews, Joey, Julie, Jon, Amelia, Abigail, and Evie always brought a smile to my face when it was needed most. Finally, my thanks to my family would not be complete without acknowledging my inlaws, David and Janet Leko. I am so apprec iative, because they offered nothing but encouragement and affirmation every step of th e way. I also want to thank my sisters and brothers-in law, Melissa and Kevin Schaeffer and Chris and Ashley Leko, for the unending laughs we shared.


5 I also owe much appreciation to my comm ittee members who encouraged and guided me. First, Dr. Mary Brownell, my co mmittee chair pushed me to strive for excellence. I am indebted to her for the time she spent giving me feedback on my ideas and writing. Her dedication to the field of special education will inspire me for the rest of my life. I am indebted to her as a mentor, researcher, and friend. To Dr. Anne Bishop, I ow e many thanks for remaining by my side from start to finish. I will always remember her kindness and compassion. I would like to thank Dr. Cynthia Griffin for helping me mature as a re searcher and writer. For all the time she spent mentoring me, I am especially th ankful. Finally, to Dr. David Mill er I owe particular thanks for remaining on my committee even though I comple ted a qualitative disserta tion. I will be forever grateful I had the opportunity to wo rk with him and learn from him. Finally, I owe much gratitude to my friends. I especially want to thank Nicole Wright for being my life long best buddy. I also extend warm thanks to the friends I have made during my doctoral program. Mary Theresa Kiely and Charlotte Mundy I thank for listening to my complaining, worries, and uncertainties. I will always cherish the wonderful times we have shared over margaritas. I also thank my frie nds and colleagues in the COPSSE office: Meg Kamman, Lisa Langley, Laura Ki ng, Brian Trutschel, Jenny Heretick, Susie Long, Juliana De Oliveira, and Jen Cordovez. Working with all of them has been such a joy and privilege. Finally, I would like to thank my friends Drs. Paul Sindelar and Martha League, both of whom helped me during my doctoral program. Dr. Sindelars expertise and leadership has influenced my development as a researcher and grant writer. I thank Dr. League for helping me secure my dissertation participants and for always helping me keep life in perspective. I am exceedingly appreciative to everyone who has been instrument al in helping me earn my doctorate. Surely I must be the most blessed person on earth!


6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........9 LIST OF FIGURES.......................................................................................................................10 ABSTRACT...................................................................................................................................11 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM............................................................................... 13 Comparative Studies............................................................................................................ ...14 Statement of the Problem....................................................................................................... .24 Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................... ....25 Definition of Terms................................................................................................................25 Delimitations of the Study..................................................................................................... .26 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................27 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........27 Five Levels of Appropriation.................................................................................................. 28 Characteristics of Individual Learners.................................................................................... 31 Prior Experiences with Schooling................................................................................... 31 Incoming Knowledge and Beliefs about Content............................................................ 33 Personal Attributes..........................................................................................................40 Social Contexts of Pre-service Teacher Learning..................................................................45 Conclusion..............................................................................................................................51 3 RESEARCH DESIGN............................................................................................................54 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........54 Theoretical Background......................................................................................................... .54 Research Design.....................................................................................................................55 Sample Selection....................................................................................................................56 Pre-service Teachers........................................................................................................ 56 PROTEACH Instructors and Field Supervisors.............................................................. 59 Cooperating Teachers...................................................................................................... 59 Participant and Practicum Placement Information................................................................. 60 Pre-service Teachers an d Cooperating Teachers ............................................................. 60 Unified Elementary PROTEACH Program..................................................................... 65 Reading Courses and Instructors..................................................................................... 66 Field Supervisors............................................................................................................. 70 Procedure................................................................................................................................71


7 Data Collection................................................................................................................71 Data Analysis...................................................................................................................77 Verification......................................................................................................................80 Study Limitations............................................................................................................ 81 Researcher Subjectivity................................................................................................... 81 Presentation of Findings.........................................................................................................83 4 PRE-SERVICE TEACHER ACTIVITY SYSTEMS.............................................................87 Anita.......................................................................................................................................88 Influence of the Individual.............................................................................................. 89 Influence of Social Contexts........................................................................................... 90 Appropriation of Tools....................................................................................................93 Interplay of Influences..................................................................................................... 95 Colleen....................................................................................................................................96 Influence of the Individual.............................................................................................. 96 Influence of Social Contexts........................................................................................... 98 Appropriation of Tools..................................................................................................101 Interplay of Influences................................................................................................... 102 Kristy......................................................................................................................... ...........103 Influence of the Individual............................................................................................ 103 Influence of Social Contexts......................................................................................... 105 Appropriation of Tools..................................................................................................109 Interplay of Influences................................................................................................... 111 Melanie.................................................................................................................................111 Influence of the Individual............................................................................................ 112 Influence of Social Contexts......................................................................................... 113 Appropriation of Tools..................................................................................................116 Interplay of Influences................................................................................................... 118 Nancy....................................................................................................................................118 Influence of the Individual............................................................................................ 119 Influence of Social Contexts......................................................................................... 120 Appropriation of Tools..................................................................................................124 Interplay of Influences................................................................................................... 125 Tricia.....................................................................................................................................125 Influence of the Individual............................................................................................ 125 Influence of Social Contexts......................................................................................... 127 Appropriation of Tools..................................................................................................129 Interplay of Influences................................................................................................... 131 Summary...............................................................................................................................131 5 THE GROUNDED THEORY ON PRE-SERV I CE TEACHER APPROPRIATION OF CONCEPTUAL AND PR ACTICAL TOOLS.....................................................................137 Core Concept: Opportunities to Ap propriate Knowledge in Practice .................................. 140 Component Concept: Personal Qualities.............................................................................. 145


8 Personal Attributes........................................................................................................146 Personal Concerns and Future Goals.............................................................................147 Beliefs............................................................................................................................149 Component Concept: Motivation for Knowledge Assimilation........................................... 150 Component Concept: Access to Knowledge........................................................................ 152 Summary...............................................................................................................................156 6 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS................................................................................ 160 Discussion.............................................................................................................................160 Opportunities to Appropriate Knowledge in Practice ...................................................161 Personal Qualities.......................................................................................................... 162 Motivation for Knowledge Assimilation....................................................................... 165 Access to Knowledge.................................................................................................... 166 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ........167 Implications................................................................................................................... .......168 Implications for Future Research in Special Education Teacher Preparation ............... 168 Implications for Special Education Teach er P reparation and Current Practice in Schools.......................................................................................................................170 Conclusion............................................................................................................................175 APPENDIX A PRIOR BELIEFS AND EXPERIENCES SURVEY........................................................... 177 B INFORMED CONSENT LETTERS.................................................................................... 178 C INTERVIEW PROTOCOL.................................................................................................. 182 D TABLE OF CODES............................................................................................................. 188 E EXCERPTS FROM REFLECTIVE LOG............................................................................ 197 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................198 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................207


9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Pre-service teacher information......................................................................................... 84 3-2 Practicum placements........................................................................................................85 3-3 Data collection timeline................................................................................................... ..86 4-1 Influences on individual pre-serv ice teachers app ropriation of tools............................. 133 5-1 Influences on appropriation of conceptual and practical tools ........................................ 158


10 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1-1 Conceptual framework....................................................................................................... 22 2-1 Levels of appropriation. Adopted from Gross man, Smagorinsky, & Valencia (1999)..... 29 5-1 Pre-service teacher a ppropriation of conceptual and practical tools. .............................. 159


11 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy UNDERSTANDING THE VARIOUS INFLUENCES ON SPECIAL EDUCATION PRESERVICE TEACHERS APPROPRIATION OF CONCEPTUAL AND PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR TEACHING READING By Melinda Marie Leko August 2008 Chair: Mary Brownell Major: Special Education Working under an activity theory framework, th e purpose of this study was to investigate how learning experiences in sp ecial education teacher prepara tion programs related to teacher candidates in the context of reading instruction for strugg ling readers and students with disabilities. More specifically, this study examined the interactions among special education preservice teachers, their university preparation in reading, and th eir practicum e xperiences, with the ultimate goal to understand how these interactions influen ced the pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Investigating how pre-service teachers interact with their various preparatory experiences is important to understanding the extent to which teacher education makes a differe nce for prospective teachers. To understand the influences on special edu cation pre-service teach er appropriation of conceptual and practical tools grounded theory methods were used. Six special education preservice teachers, who taught read ing to struggling readers and st udents with disabilities during a practicum experience, participated in the st udy. In addition to pre-se rvice teachers, their practicum cooperating teachers, field supervisors, and reading methods course instructors also participated. The data sources consisted of participant interviews, videotaped classroom


12 observations, the Reading in Special Education (RISE) observation in strument, pre and post concept maps, and prior experi ences and beliefs surveys. Grounded within the data on pre-service teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, a theory emerged from three analysis phas es (i.e., open, axial, and selective coding). In summary, six pre-service teachers were all aff ected by influences comprising individual and social context activity systems, though the exte nt to which these activity systems affected individual pre-service teachers varied. From the activity systems, four concepts emerged as chief mediators of pre-service teacher appropriation of tools. Of th ese concepts, the most important was opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice Without such opportunities, preservice teachers struggled to appropriate tools to higher le vels. While opportunities to appr opriate knowledge in practice emerged as the core concept, three component concepts (a) personal qualities, (b) motivation for knowledge assimilation, and (c) access to knowledge also played a role in the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. The interactions of the core co ncept and the component concepts worked to either facilitate or hinder tool appropriation. In the best case, the concepts worked in positive ways, thus facilitating pre-service teachers appropriation of tools. In this instance the interaction of supportive personal attributes, a future goal as a special educator, and a positive special education practicum experi ence with plentiful oppor tunities to situate explicit, systematic reading knowledge in practice led to high levels of tool appropriation.


13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM In 1983, the National Commission on Ex cellence in Education published A Nation at Risk a report that condem ned the American education sy stem for not preparing students to compete in an increasingly competitive global society. In the years following the publication of A Nation at Risk, critics of teacher education argued that the proposed failure of American schools was due to teacher education programs having no measur able impact on the production of high quality teachers, or on student achievement (Hess, 2001; Walsh, 2001). Critics further argued that a teachers verbal ability and s ubject matter knowledge were key factors in improving students achievement (Hess, 2001; Walsh, 2001). Hess and Walsh represent scholars who supported the deregulation of the teaching profession whereby pr ospective teachers would be able to enter the classroom without completing any education coursework. Supporters of deregulation believe that traditional teacher preparation programs are too lengthy because of unnecessary requirements such as courses in pedagogy and student teach ing experiences; these re strictive preparation programs discourage capable and talented people from enteri ng the classroom. Opposing the deregulation position are supporters of teacher education, for example the National Commission on Teaching and Americas Fu ture (NCTAF) and its spokesperson Linda Darling-Hammond. NCTAF (1996) published a report suggesting increasing the professionalization of the nations teachers. For example, NCTAF recommended reinventing teacher preparation and professional development and rewarding teacher knowledge and skill. In essence, the NCTAF report argued for greater te acher preparation and increased standards to enter the classroom. Thus, a longstanding debate has ensued between those who advocate for greater professionalization and re gulation of the teaching profe ssion, and those who advocate for the deregulation of teaching and the abolishmen t of formal teacher education programs. The


14 debate between deregulationists and those who support teacher pr eparation has centered on the question: Does teacher education make a difference? To answer this question, an increase in comparative studies appeared starting in the early 1990s. Comparative Studies Debates con cerning teacher education and its role in preparing highly qualified teachers have lead to multiple comparative studies. In comparison studies, researchers compare the practices of teachers from various preparation programs (typically tradit ional vs. alternative route) in hopes of determining which pr ograms produce more effective teachers (Boyd, Grossman, Lankford, Loeb, Wyckoff, 2006; Ke nnedy, 1991a; Harris & Sass, 2007; Laczko-Kerr & Berliner, 2002; Nougaret, Scr uggs, & Mastropieri, 2005; Sinde lar, Daunic, & Rennells, 2004; Wenglinsky, 2000). While the design of these st udies seems straightforward (i.e. compare teachers with more preparation and teachers w ith less preparation) a plethora of hidden complexities makes drawing conclusive inferenc es virtually impossible. For example, the programs that are compared in these studies are quite heterogeneous. Spec ific programs within the categories of traditional and alternative route can vary dramatically, thus making it difficult to draw valid comparisons. For example, Laczko-Kerr & Berliner compared Teach for America (TFA) graduates and graduates from traditional teacher education programs in Arizona and found that graduates from traditional programs were able to secure stronger student achievement scores. The implication from this study is that t eachers from traditional preparation programs are of higher quality than teachers from alternative route programs. But as Zeichner and Conklin (2005) point out, this seemingly straightforward conclusion shrouds a more complicated picture. The teachers comprising the traditional prepara tion group attended several different universitybased programs, all of which differed in their ch aracteristics and structure. Similarly, the TFA graduates differed in the amount of mentori ng, additional training, and other supports they


15 received. The variation in training and preparation the teachers in th is study received prevents us from knowing which program features ma de a difference in teacher quality. In a similarly designed study, Nougaret et al. (2 005) studied special education teachers and their classroom practices. They found that gradua tes of traditional teach er education programs, on a validated classroom observation instrument outperformed alternative route teachers who had participated in six hours or less of teacher education coursework. While the results of this study indicated that special educators with more extensive preparation outperformed teachers with less extensive preparation, like the LaczkoKerr & Berliner (2002) study, the Nougaret et al. study did not account for some important differen ces between and within the two groups of teachers. The sample of 40 teachers was drawn fr om five different Mid-Atlantic States. The university based traditional prep aration programs were not unifor m across states, nor were the nontraditional programs. The programs differed in number and types of required courses. Moreover, the teachers from the nontraditional programs all entered teaching with various Bachelors degrees, thus they had different backgrounds. The impor tant differences between and within program types, made it difficult to underst and what specific aspects of teacher preparation made a difference in the teachers practices. The abovementioned complexities that accompany comparative studies have led some scholars to argue that such comparative studies are not terribly productive in studying the effects of teacher preparation (Boyd et al., 2006; Humphrey & Wechsler, 2005; Kennedy, 1991; Wenglinsky, 2000). These teacher educators believe that more informative investigations are those that examine the interac tions among preparation, school cont ext, and attributes unique to prospective teachers.


16 For instance, Kennedy and her colleagues at th e National Center for Research on Teacher Learning (1991) conducted the Te acher Education and Learning to Teach (TELT) study. The TELT study consisted of longitudinal case studies of 11 preparation sites representing various preparation approaches across the stages in a teachers career (for ex ample, traditional and alternative pre-service, induction and in-service). Kennedy f ound that not only did the preservice programs differ dramatical ly in terms of their focus, structure, and requirements, but they also differed in the types of pre-service teacher s they attracted. Prospective teachers beliefs about teaching and their teaching am bitions played a role in their choice of academic institution. As the TELT researchers argued, the outcome of any preparation program, therefore, is a function of both program features and individual teacher candidates. In 2000, Wenglinsky studied the relationships between institution characteristics, their programs, and teacher effectiveness as measured by teacher licensure examination scores. The results indicated that (a) private institutions outscored public institutions (b) universities outperformed colleges, (c) programs with large numb ers of traditional students did better than programs with fewer numbers of such students, and (d) institutions wi th diverse faculties performed better than programs with predomin antly white faculty members. Chief among Wenglinksys implications was that teacher prep aration programs could not be uniformly labeled effective or ineffective. The effectiveness of a particular program was dependent on its various characteristics. Five years later, Humphrey and Wechsler ( 2005) studied prospective teachers from seven alternative certificati on programs and found that teacher deve lopment was not dependent solely on participation in a specific program; rather teacher deve lopment was a function of the interaction of preparation program school context, and the candida tes prior experiences. Like


17 Kennedy (1991), Humphrey and Wechsler found that program outcomes were a function of program characteristics and design and the program participants. Finally, the Pathways to Teaching study conducted by Boyd et al. (2006) supports the idea that there is more variability in teacher effec tiveness within preparation programs than there is between preparation programs. Boyd and his collea gues studied graduates of various pathways to teaching in New York City. They found that though graduates of traditional preparation programs secured higher student achievement scor es in the first few years of teaching, these differences were often small and di ssipated after five years. Differe nces in effectiveness were far greater within pathways than between them. The studies by Kennedy (1991), Wenglinsky (200 0), Humphrey and W echsler (2005), and Boyd and his colleagues (2006) demonstrate th at though comparative studies can inform researchers of some general differe nces in various preparatory rout es to the classroom, they fail to provide an in-depth look at the relationships between participants and programs. According to Kennedy, without such an in-depth examina tion, findings from comparison studies cannot contribute much to reform efforts in teacher education (Kennedy, 1991a p. 12). Furthermore, Boyd et al. (2006) and Humphrey and Wechsler (2005) asserted th at basic comparisons at the program level are not particularly useful, because participants experience programs so differently. The participants ba ckgrounds, school contexts, and program features all interacted so that despite being in the same program, each participant had a unique experience. According to Humphrey and Wechsler, a more beneficial design would be in-depth case studies at the participant level. The American Educational Research Associat ion (AERA) panel on research and teacher education supports the need for more in-depth types of studies of preparation programs and


18 teacher learning. Representing the position of th e AERA, Zeichner and Conklin (2005) posit that the complexities of teacher education progr ams need to be acknowledged by studying the program components, their settings, and their partic ipants. Particularly usef ul are studies that: (a) are situated in relevant theoretical frameworks (b) connect teacher characteristics, teacher learning, teacher practices, and teacher education, in sp ecific disciplines, (c) examine teacher education students and the instru ctional contexts of teacher e ducation, and (d) examine teacher education curriculum, instructi onal practices, and organizationa l arrangements (Zeichner, 2005). Amassing a deeper, more comprehensive body of knowledge on how teachers learn should better inform our policy decisions about how to craft teacher education. The position taken by the AERA consensus pa nel is supported in the research on teacher learning. The research on teacher learning calls for a sophisticated model that can account for teachers prior experiences, beliefs, knowledge, and practice (Borko & Putnam, 1996; FeimanNemser, 1983; Humphrey & Wechsler, 2005). In conceptualizing teacher lear ning it is important to understand how individuals interact with teach er education experiences, for example how they interpret field experiences and methods courses and how they grow professionally by interacting with other professionals (Feiman-Nemser, 1983). Such a complex conceptualization of teacher learning will help teacher educators capture a mo re accurate picture of how prospective teachers learn. This view of teacher learning particular ly is relevant for special education teacher education, as the intricacies i nvolved in teaching students with disabilities create a more complicated context for teacher learning. For ex ample, special educati on pre-service teachers must be (a) prepared to address the diverse need s of students with disabilities, (b) work in a variety of classroom contexts a nd service delivery models, and (c ) work collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders including administrato rs, general educators, paraprofessionals, and


19 parents. Furthermore, by studying teacher educat ion programs carefully, we can provide answers to many questions about the degree to which t eacher education programs can make a difference in the preparation of prospective teachers and the ways in which programs can do so. Conceptual Framework: Activity Theory A framework for research on teacher learning that holds much promise for studying the interactions among pre-service teacher experience s, knowledge, and practice is activity theory. Activity theory focuses on the interaction of human activity and consciousness within its relevant environmental context (Jonasse n & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999 p. 62). Activity theory started as a Soviet concept w ith strong ties to Vygotsky and hi s theory of mediation until a rebirth in interest occurred in the 1970s (Dan iels, 2001; Graue, 1993). Activity theory has been applied to the field of tec hnology, especially human-computer interactions (Nardi, 1996). Additionally, in the 1980s several studies in the field of e ducation analyzed cultural resources and constraints available in a se tting that influence activity (Gra ue, 1993). For example, Weisner, Gallimore, and Jordan (1988) investigated sibling care arrangements and how they apply to school interactions. More recently, scholars have argued that activity theory is an appropriate framework for examining teacher learning because according to activity theorists, context affects learning and a persons actions a ffect the context (Fairbanks & Meritt, 1998). Thus, activity theory accounts for individual influences on learning such as prior beliefs, knowledge, and experiences, as well as the various contexts in which teacher learning is situated, for example, contexts like methods courses and internships. Activity theory also rejects the one-way transmission of knowledge model and instead va lues how the learners actions influence the learning context and vice versa.


20 In 1999, Grossman, Smagorinsky, and Valencia adap ted the tenets of activity theory to the field of education. The activity theory framewor k developed by Grossman et al. served as a foundation for the conceptual framework guiding this investigation of teacher learning and tool appropriation. It should be noted that the model relating teacher learning and activity theory can be applied to both in-service a nd pre-service teachers, but each population has its own set of opportunities, challenges, and contexts. Studying both in-service and pre-service teachers is beyond the scope of this paper, t hus this investigation focused ex clusively on pre-service teacher learning. The conceptual framework that guided th is work is presented in the next section. Using the elements of activity theory as indicat ed by Grossman et al. (1999), the researcher developed a conceptual framework to guide th e study (see Figure 1-1). Pre-service teachers, typified by their individual char acteristics, enter the social c ontexts of pre-service teacher learning. In other words, pre-service teachers, armed with their prior experiences and beliefs, knowledge, personal attributes, and personal goals and expectations enter the teacher preparation program. As indicated by Fairbanks and Meritt (1998), the individuals ac tions affect the preservice teacher preparation cont ext, which in turn affects learning. Thus, according to activity theory, it is the interaction of th e individual with the teacher prep aration context that translates into learning. In this study, th e teacher education programs activ ity systems consist of university coursework, field placements, and practicum expe rience. These activity systems overlap because they exist as connected relationships rather than discrete experiences (Grossman et al.). Each activity system has a specific set of objectiv es, resources, and structural features. From each of these activity systems, pre-se rvice teachers acquire pedagogical tools, categorized as either conceptual or practical. Teachers use pedagogical tools to guide and implement their classroom practice (Grossman et al., p. 13). Concep tual tools are broad


21 principles and ideas that help guide teachers decision making. Examples of conceptual tools include learning theories such as reader-response theory or sca ffolding. Practical tools, on the other hand, are specific skills and st rategies with immediate utility such as journal writing, use of textbooks, or daily oral language.


22 Figure 1-1. Conceptual framework


23 The pre-service teachers then appropriate, or a dopt, certain practical and conceptual tools. The extent to which they adopt a pedagogical tool (either practical or conceptual) depends on the level of agreement and congruence between the influences of the individual, the teacher educators, and the context (Grossman et al., 1999). Additionally, appropriation of tools is dependent on learners acquisition of the conten t knowledge, or subject ma tter, needed to support various tools. For example, a teacher who lacked content knowledge of letter sounds would have difficulty implementing practical tools like blending or segmenting phonemes effectively. Grossman et al. identified five levels of appropriation. The lowest level is lack of appropriation whereby a pre-serv ice teacher does not adopt a tool The lack of appropriation may result because the pre-service teacher lacks su fficient knowledge of the tool, because the preservice teachers beli efs do not support the tool, or because a context is not conducive to utilizing the tool. The second level is appropriating a label. In this level, the pre-se rvice teacher learns the name of a tool but does not know any of the tools features (Grossman et al.). The third level is appropriating surface features in which the pre-service teacher knows some of the tools features but does not know how those features work togeth er or fit with content knowledge to create a holistic picture of the tool (Grossman et al.). The fourth level is appropriating conceptual underpinnings. In this level, the pre-service teacher understands the th eory behind the tool (Grossman et al.). The final level is achieving mastery in which the pre-service teacher possesses the skills to use a tool effec tively (Grossman et al.). To reach mastery may require years of practice. Pre-service teachers engaging in a practicum teaching experience will probably not have enough time to reach mastery levels. Depending on characteristics of the individu al pre-service teacher and her learning contexts, pedagogical tools will be appropriated at different levels. Tools that have been


24 appropriated at higher levels become the accessibl e practices a pre-service teacher can draw from during her teaching (Grossman et al.). Another way to think about the formation of accessible practices is that the appropriated tools come together to form a pr e-service teachers tool kit of instructional practices. The pre-service teacher s practice is based on the number of available tools and the level to which each one has been appropriated. For example a pre-service teacher will use a practical tool such as morning meeting if she believes in it, if she has sufficient knowledge to support it, and if she is placed in a context that is conducive to implementing it. Statement of the Problem Using activity theo ry as a framework, it is evident that there are many factors that influence teacher learning as it relates to the kno wledge and experiences necessary for teachers to enact practice. Special educat ors face additional challenges and complexities when instructing students with disabilities. For example, special educators must apply th eir broad-based teacher training to a multitude of student needs, academic content areas, and instructional levels as well as assuming multiple roles within their schools (Blanton et al., 2003), thus it might be difficult for them to apply tools, as they must weave toge ther their knowledge of the students, curriculum, and specific interventions with their general e ducation colleagues. Furthermore, limited numbers of special education field placements and internsh ips may result in special education pre-service teachers not having quality contexts in which to enact their knowledge of teaching students with disabilities. Because of the differences between general educators and special educators, researchers in the field of special education need to conduct studies that include the complexities known to characterize special education. It is criti cal, therefore, that sp ecial education teacher education researchers devote time and energy to investigations aimed at unraveling the complex connections between special edu cation pre-service teacher preparation, knowledge, and practice (Zumwalt & Craig, 2005). In pursu ing these types of inquiries, researchers can add to the


25 growing body of empirical research in special education teacher educa tion that is becoming increasingly important for crafting sound educational polic ies that apply direc tly to students with disabilities. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study, therefore, will be to investigate how learning experiences in special education teacher preparation programs re late to teacher candidates in the context of reading instruction. It is important to note that the tenets of activity theory, as they have been adapted to pre-service teacher learning, could be applied to a ny content area. Because of the NCLB Acts specific emphasis on improving the r eading achievement of students, the present investigation is limited to the area of reading instruction. This study examines the interactions among sp ecial education pre-service teachers, their reading preparation, and their enac tment of reading instruction. Us ing tenets of activity theory, this study will investigate the following questions: (a ) what role do individual characteristics of learners, namely their incoming prior belief s, experiences, knowle dge, expectations, and concerns play in the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, (b) what are the influences on special education pre-service teachers appr opriation of tools during classroom reading instruction and (c) how do activity settings and their social structures mediate special education pre-service teachers acquisition of knowledge related to reading instruction? According to the guidelines suggested by Zeichner (2005), investigative questions such as these are valuable because they examine teacher education students and teacher education contexts and curricula, all situated in the relevant theoretical framework of activity theory and in the specific content area of reading. Definition of Terms KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge in this study refers to c ontent knowledge that supports


26 conceptual and practical t ools for reading instruction for students with mild disabilities, specifically l earning disabilities (LD). APPROPRIATION. Appropriation refers to the process through which a person adopts the pedagogical tools available for us e in particular so cial environments and through this process internalizes ways of thinking endemic to specific cultural practices (Grossman et al., 1999, 15). PEDAGOGICAL TOOLS. Pedagogical tools refer to the tools through which teachers construct and carry out teaching practices (Grossman et al., 1999, 13). There are two types of pedagogical tools: conceptual and practical. CONCEPTUAL TOOLS. Conceptual tools refer to prin ciples, ideas, and frameworks about teaching that guide teachers decisions, such as theoretical principles like constructivism, student motivation, and inst ructional scaffolding (Grossman et al., 1999). PRACTICAL TOOLS. Practical tools refer to practices and strategies that serve as direct and immediate resources for t eachers (Grossman et al., 1999). Textbooks, unit plans, behavior charts, and journa l writing prompts are all examples of practical tools. Delimitations of the Study The present study participants were special education Masters leve l students at a large Research Intensive University. Thus, participant pre-service teachers do no t represent the general population of special education pre-service teac hers, nor do the reading course instructors represent the general population of teacher educators. Additionally, the schools in which the preservice teachers completed their practicum place ments were limited to a midsize school district in North Central Florida. Finally, the participan ts were chosen based on selection criteria and their willingness to participate. With a limited sample size, it was inevitable that some preservice teachers would be excluded from the study.


27 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction To be successful equipping prospective teacher s with the beliefs, knowledge, and practices that will ultim ately raise student achievement, it seems that preparation programs will have to be able to account for and accommodate the need s of individual pre-service teachers. By accommodating pre-service teachers individual need s, the hope is that preparation programs and the activity systems that comprise these progr ams will help prospect ive teachers reach the highest levels of appropriation of tools. An important question for t eacher educators, therefore, is what would either facilitate or stand in the way of higher leve ls of tool appr opriation? What personal attributes of pre-service teachers would facilita te the appropriation of tools? What prior beliefs and understandings about teaching and st udents either support or hinder more advanced tool appropriation? Finally, what types of activities and experiences within the larger preparation activity system further the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools? The purpose of this literature review is to accumulate evidence that will shed light on the aforementioned questions. According to Grossman et al. (1999), to understand how and why preservice teachers appropriat e tools at different levels it is critical to examine two broad concepts, the individual characteri stics of the learner and the social context of learning Within each of these broad concepts are factors that can either hinder or fac ilitate tool appropriation. This chapter reviews the literature in these two areas by highlighti ng research that answers the following questions: (a) what characteristics of individual learners facilitate knowledge acquisition and tool appropriati on and (b) how should the social contexts that mediate preservice teacher learning be structured so as to maximi ze the acquisition of knowledge and appropriation of tools? Before answering these questions, howe ver, this chapter provides a brief


28 review of Grossman et al.s five levels of a ppropriation. Next, the resear ch on characteristics of individuals will be reviewed. The third section focuses on social contexts of pre-service teacher learning. Following the reviews of these areas, this chapter concludes with a comprehensive summary that links the existing literature with the research questions this study addresses. Although the research goal of the present study is to examine the literature on pre-service special education teacher education in the conten t area of reading, few such studies exist. The majority of pre-service special education teach er education studies examine (a) pre-service teachers beliefs and attitudes about inclusive edu cation and students with disabilities and (b) the effects of collaborative programs between gene ral and special education (Pugach, 2005). Due to a limited number of investigations situated in the joint areas of special education and reading, this literature review will focus on the research on pre-service teacher preparation in general education and wherever possible, highlight relevant research from the fields of special education and reading. Five Levels of Appropriation Figure 2-1 d epicts the five levels of appr opriation according to Grossman, Smagorinsky, and Valencia (1999). The extent to which tools are appropriated depends on the congruence of a learners values, prior experien ces, and goals with those of more experiences or powerful members of a culture, such as school-based teacher s or university facult y (Grossman et al., p. 15).


29 Figure 2-1. Levels of appropria tion. Adopted from Grossman, Sm agorinsky, & Valencia (1999) In circumstances of high congruence between pre-service teachers, practicum cooperating teachers, field supervisors, and university inst ructors, it is assumed appropriation will reach higher levels. The lowest level is lack of appropriation. At this level tools are not adopted (Grossman et al., 1999). There are a variety of explanations for why a pre-service teacher might not appropriate a particular tool. A pre-service teachers personal beliefs, prior experiences, or cultural background could be at odd s with the tool, thus resulti ng in the pre-service teacher rejecting it. For example, a pre-service teache r who subscribes to a teacher-directed teaching style might reject knowledge and tools related to cooperative learning. A different example


30 would be when pre-service teachers are being taught new knowledge that is too abstract or difficult for them. Grossman et al. (1999) calls the second level appropriating a label. This level occurs when a tool is appropriated onl y at a superficial level. For ex ample, if a pre-service teacher knows that oral reading fluency involves stude nts reading out loud but does not know specific practices to improve oral r eading fluency or why it is important. The next level is appropriating surface features, in which a learner knows some features of a tool but is missing a broader conceptual understanding of how all the features work together to create a complete tool (Grossman et al.). Knowing that direct instru ction includes both guided and independent practice but not knowing how to determine when students are ready to move from guided to independent practice is an example of someone who has reached the level of appropriating surface features The two highest levels of appropriation are appropriating conceptual underpinnings and achieving mastery. Pre-service teachers who have appropr iated the conceptual underpinnings of a tool have acquired a deep work ing knowledge about the tool, thus allowing them to use the tool in a variety of situations. For example, pre-service teachers who have a deep understanding of curricula and can draw from the strengths of each in various teac hing situations have appropriated conceptual underpin nings. Grossman et al. (199 9) cautioned that pre-service teachers can achieve this level but still be unabl e to translate the knowledge into practice. For example a pre-service teacher might accept new tools and knowledge only to be discouraged from using them during the practicum experience A pre-service teacher might learn about the importance of providing students with disabi lities accommodations in the general education classroom but then be given a practicum placemen t in which students with disabilities are not included in the general education classroom. In this instance, the pre-service teacher has a deep


31 understanding of accommodations but cannot en act this knowledge during the practicum experience. The highest level is achieving mastery. This level is reached wh en pre-service teachers can eventually use a tool efficien tly and effectively in their own classrooms. This level extends beyond the pre-service preparation context and ma y take several years to achieve. It will not, therefore, be possible to include th e level of mastery in this study. Characteristics of Individual Learners As mentioned previously, under activity theory, learning (or lack of learning) occurs as a result of the influences of the individual and so cial learning contexts. In this section, literature with respect to pre-service teachers characte ristics will be reviewed. These characteristics include pre-service teachers prior experiences with schooli ng, their incoming knowledge and beliefs about content, th eir personal attributes, a nd finally their personal goals and expectations. Research pertaining to each of these characteristics follows. Prior Experiences with Schooling As pre-service teachers enter the prep aration context, they bring with them their prior beliefs, knowledge, and experien ces as students during their own K-12 school. Lortie (1975) refers to pre-service teachers prior knowledge about education as the apprenticeship of observation. Their recollections from their own education bac kgrounds have a powerful effect on their learning and knowledge in the preparati on context and on their pr actice and decisions as future professionals (Calderhead & Robson, 1991). The literature in general e ducation indicates that preservice teacher s often enter preparation programs believing they are experts in teaching because of their prior experiences as students (Brookhart & Freeman, 1992; Feiman -Nemser & Buchmann, 1985). Bullough and Stokes (1994) examined pre-service teachers personal metaphors about teaching and found that


32 they were unrealistically optimistic about their future teaching performance (p.211). Furthermore, they lacked sophisticated ideas about teaching, learning, and students. Harlin (1999) found that pre-service teachers enter prep aration programs with a traditional view of teaching in which they dispense information (Brookhart & Freeman). They subscribe to a transmission view of teaching whereby teachers are the authority on knowledge and students are passive recipients of information; thus, they s ee learning as simple and mechanistic and acquired through listening, reading, and memorizing (Richa rdson, 1996). Their prio r experiences with good teaching do not result in a deep understanding of the complexity of teaching because the knowledge, skills, and decisions characteristic of good teaching are often invisible (Munby, Russell, & Martin, 2001). Thus, they view teach ing as easy (Lortie, 1975), a view that is problematic for any prospective te acher, but particularly problema tic in special education where deep-seated knowledge of curriculum, evidenced-ba sed strategies, and student needs is necessary to provide quality instruction to students with disabilities (Stough & Palmer, 2003) or other struggling learners (Taylor, Pressley, & Pearson, 2000). It is important to note that for most special e ducation pre-service teacher s, the role of prior experiences is different. Pre-se rvice teachers who enroll in special education preparation programs were most likely general education st udents during their K-12 schooling, thus they may have few personal experiences with spec ial education (Pugach, 2005). Special education teacher educators should be aware that pre-serv ice teachers limited prior exposure to special education might result in incomplete and/or inaccurate knowledge and beliefs about special education. Or, the opposite could be true. Pre-serv ice teachers beliefs about special education may be less solidified and more likely to be influenced by special education preparation programs.


33 From the literature on pre-service teachers prior experiences w ith schooling, it seems possible that these experiences with schooling coul d initially derail thei r tool appropriation for teaching special education. For one thing, pre-serv ice teachers view teaching as simple and could have difficulty, therefore, acquiring and enact ing challenging pedagogical content knowledge such as explicit and systematic phonics instru ction. Pre-service teache rs traditional views of teaching could prove problematic if they are enrolled in preparation programs that emphasize constructivist, student-directed l earning styles because student-di rected learning styles are at odds with the traditional instructional style with which they are most familiar. Finally, entering preparation programs already feeling like expert s could make them resistant to constructive criticism from university instru ctors, field supervisors, and cooperating teachers. Of course, without an in-depth investiga tion, the ways in which any of these prior expe riences with schooling will truly influence individual pre-serv ice teachers appropriation of tools is mere speculation. Incoming Knowledge and Beliefs about Content When providing reading instruction for students with disabilities, there are two broad content areas from which pre-service teacher s would need to draw knowledge. One area is knowledge about students with disabilities and their learning and be havioral needs. The other is knowledge about reading instruction. The amount of incoming knowledge pre-service teachers possess about these areas and the alignment of th eir incoming beliefs with content presented in the preparation context will presumably aff ect their knowledge appropriation (Brookhart & Freeman, 1992). In other words, we know that th eir beliefs act as powerful filters during their coursework (Hollingsworth, 1989; Pajares, 1992). Additionally, pre-service teachers prior knowledge of the population they intend to teach and their prior knowledge of appropriate instructional practices for this population can also filter what they learn. For instance, some pre-


34 service teachers might not have an understand ing that students can have learning disabilities (LD) in conjunction with above average intelligence. This lack of knowledge and understanding of dual exceptionalities could interfere with incoming knowledge about the high academic expectations that should be placed on gifted students with LD and the necessity for these students to be placed in gifted or enrichment classes. In the following sections, the researcher revi ewed the literature on pre-service teachers incoming knowledge and beliefs about content related to reading and disa bility. Although there is a substantial amount of research on pre-servic e teachers beliefs about content knowledge, it is interesting to note that after reviewing the literature on teacher can didates, Brookhart and Freeman found that entering teacher candidates place more emphasis on nurturing aspects of teaching rather than academic aspects. Preservice teachers preoccupation with nurturing students could interfere with th eir acquisition of pedagogical cont ent knowledge because they are more concerned with the affective aspects of teaching rather than the academic ones. Incoming knowledge and beliefs about reading and struggling readers. As pre-service teachers enter teacher preparation programs, wh at knowledge and prior beliefs about reading do they bring with them? Included in this section are five studies that invest igated this question. Wham (1993) examined pre-service teachers th eoretical orientations to reading, by asking 35 pre-service teachers and their cooperating teachers to complete DeFords (1985) Theoretical Orientation to Reading Profile (TORP). DeFord id entified three theoretical orientations teachers may draw upon in their instructional practices. One emphasizes sound/symbol relationships. The second orientation is based on specific skills, such as using context clues, root words, affixes, and acquiring sight words. The last orientation is a holistic approach. The pre-service teachers completed the TORP before their commencing th eir undergraduate coursework. At that time,


35 23% scored in the phonics range an d 77% percent scored in the sk ills range. None of the preservice teachers scored in the whole language range. The results of this study could bode well for special education teacher preparation programs that emphasize the importa nce of an explicit, systematic phonics-based reading program that includes strategies to help students with disabilities decode unknown words. Almost a fourth of the pre-servic e teachers entered the preparation program already subscribing to a phonics-based approach to reading and threefourths believed in a skills-based approach that provides students with strategies to tackle unknown words. Investigating teacher perceptions about r eading, Bos, Mather, Dickson, Podhajski, and Chard (2001) assessed 252 pre-service teachers and 286 in-service teachers on two measures, the Teacher Perceptions toward Early Reading and Spelling (TPERS) and the Teacher Knowledge Assessment: Structure of Language (TKA:SL). The TPERS measured teachers perceptions towards explicit and implicit instruction, and the TKA:SL measured teachers knowledge of reading. Specifically, the researchers measur ed teachers phonemic awareness and phonics knowledge. The data were analyzed according to the teachers experience, pre-service or inservice and according to their pos itions, general education or sp ecial education. Bos et al. found that overall, the teachers lacked sufficient knowledge about readi ng instruction. The pre-service teachers answered 53% of the knowledge questio ns correctly and the in-service teachers answered 60% of the questions co rrectly. In terms of perceptions towards reading instruction, all teachers rated explicit instruction higher than implicit instructi on, though the in-service teachers ratings were higher than the pre-service teac hers. The special edu cators ranked explicit instruction higher than the gene ral educators. Like Whams ( 1993) study, this study indicated that pre-service teachers are likely to enter th eir preparation programs with positive perceptions


36 of explicit instruc tion, though their lack of knowledge about phonemic awareness and phonics could prove to be a barrier to higher levels of appropriation regard ing reading tools and knowledge. Cheek, Steward, Launey, and Borgia ( 2004) also conducted a study on pre-service teacher perceptions. In this study, the researcher s gave The Teachers Reading Aptitude Voice Scale (TRAVS) to 153 pre-service teachers. The pr e-service teachers res ponded to a series of reading belief statements designed to connect reading beliefs to teaching styles. The assessment had four teaching style categorie s: experiential, instructional, relational, and provisional. Experiential, the ability to plan for meaningful experiences for students an d linking instruction to their background knowledge was the st yle valued most. Interestingly, they value this experiential teaching style most, but it is at odds with their tendency to gravitate towards a transmission mode of instruction. These findings may reflect problems associated with examining entering beliefs without examining how they evolve in practice. A study that provided insight into teachers perceptions about struggling readers was conducted by Schell and Rouch (1988). The research ers administered a se mantic differential survey consisting of bipolar ad jectives to a group of pre-serv ice and in-service teachers. For example, one pair of bipolar adjectives was lazy and diligent. The participants used the adjectives to rate thei r feelings about students in low read ing groups. After running an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) the researchers found that pre-service teachers per ceived the low reading group more negatively compared to in-service te achers. Pre-service teachers perceived the low reading group more negatively compared to th e high reading group. The pre-service teachers poor perceptions of students in low reading group s, groups most likely composed of struggling


37 readers and students with disabilities, could in fluence their knowledge appropriation of reading instruction for students with disabilities negatively. Nierstheimer, Hopkins, and D illon (2000) studied what pre-service teachers believed should be done to help struggling readers. In this study, 67 pre-service teachers completed questionnaires and interviews. Nierstheimer et al. found that the pre-se rvice teachers believed that children struggle with reading because of th eir home situations and because their parents did not read to them. They also felt struggling read ers had inadequate readin g strategies at their disposal. Finally, the data indicated that pre-service teachers assigned the responsibility of reading instruction to others in cluding parents, reading specialists, and tutors. This finding is particularly concerning for special education pre-se rvice teachers, as school s often charge special educators with the responsibility of teaching struggling readers. Incoming knowledge and beliefs about students with disabilities. The majority of studies on teachers beliefs and attitudes concerning students with disabilities have focused on in-service general educators and (a) their belie fs and attitudes about inclusive education and students with disabilities, (b) th e effects of their preservice preparation, a nd (c) the relationship between diversity and disability (Pugach, 2005) Fewer studies have examined pre-service teachers incoming beliefs, attitude s, and knowledge about students w ith disabilities. This section provides information on four such studies. In 1999, Hutchinson and Martin, conducted a qualitative study anal yzing pre-service teachers responses to dilemma cases about students with disabilities. The results indicated that the pre-service teachers lacked knowledge for help ing students with disabilities, especially those who exhibit behavior problems. Additionally, the pr e-service teachers belief s indicated a lack of commitment to the most challenging students.


38 Two years later, Taylor and Sobel (2001) conducted a survey st udy of 129 pre-service teachers beliefs about disability. These research ers found that the pre-service teachers held high expectations for students with disabilities. More over, the pre-service teachers believed it was their responsibility to provide an equitable education to all students. But when it came to their knowledge about how to help students with disabi lities, the pre-service teachers admitted they lacked knowledge about how to ad apt instruction and create cl assrooms where students with disabilities would succeed. Si milarly, Cook (2002) surveyed 181 pre-service teachers about inclusive education and found that they rated th eir ability to teach st udents with learning disabilities higher than other disability groups, but that they still questioned their knowledge and preparedness to teach in an inclusive setting. Finally, in the most recent study, conducted by Garriott, Miller, and Snyder (2003), 239 pre-service teachers were surv eyed about their beliefs concerning inclusive education and students with mild disabilities. The majority of the participants (55%) be lieved that students with mild disabilities should receive in struction in general education classrooms. Forty-five percent of the participants, however, believed students with mild disabilities should be placed in special education classrooms because these students would receive more individualized attention in such classrooms. Like the participants in the Taylor and Sobel (2001) and Cook (2002) studies, the pre-service teachers in the Garrio tt, Miller, and Snyder (2003) study expressed concerns for their lack of knowledge and skills to t each students with disabilities. The studies on pre-service teachers beliefs a nd attitudes about students with disabilities seem to provide mixed findings. The one qualita tive study provided evidence that pre-service teachers hold negative beliefs about students with disabilities and inclusive education (Hutchinson & Martin, 1999), while two of the surv ey studies indicated that pre-service teachers


39 hold positive beliefs about student s with disabilities and their pl acement in general education classrooms. In the third survey study, the participants were nearly evenly split in their beliefs about students with disa bilities being educated in general education ve rsus special education classrooms. It is important to note that thes e one shot surveys did not follow pre-service teachers throughout their preparation programs or in to their future classr ooms. We have little understanding, therefore, of how their beliefs were shaped over time or how these beliefs influenced classroom practice. One finding, however, was consistent across all four studies. The pre-service teachers readily adm itted that they lacked the requisite knowledge and skills to successfully teach student s with disabilities. Relating the findings from these studies back to the activity theory conceptual framework, pre-service teachers incoming beliefs and knowledge about students with disabilities could work to influence their appropriation of tools in various ways. For pre-service teachers who enter preparation programs with positive beliefs about students with disa bilities in inclusive education, it seems they will be met with more congruen ce during their special e ducation training. The opposite could be true for pre-service teachers wh o hold negative views but who are enrolled in collaborative preparation programs or programs emphasizing inclusionary practices. The fact that the pre-service teachers realize they lack sufficient knowledge to help students with disabilities could facil itate their tool appropriation about special education. The pre-service teachers might pay particular attention to this information because they are lacking it and know it is critical to their success as teachers. In this section, literature on i ndividual characteristics of preservice teacher learners has been presented. Up to this point, the research presented has focused on pre-service teachers prior experiences with schooling an d their prior beliefs and knowledge about th e content areas of


40 reading and disability. The final two areas of research that are classified under individual characteristics of learners are personal attributes and persona l goals and expectations. This section concludes with a re view of these two areas. Personal Attributes What are the personal attributes of pre-se rvice teachers who ar e successful in their knowledge acquisition and com pletion of a prep aration program? Research supports two attributes, reflection and self-effi cacy, as being important factors in pre-service teachers success. In the following section, research on reflection and self-efficacy is presented. Reflection. Reflection can be thought of as a deliberative cognitive process involving sequences of related ideas aimed at solving a practical problem (Hatton & Smith, 1995). In other words, reflection is the stepping back and thinking about the past or it is the evaluation of a problem with the hopes of developing a solution. Research has shown that the personal attribute of reflection influences pre-service teacher l earning and success. Richards and Morse (2002) conducted a case study of a pre-service teacher, Alisha, a successful pr e-service teacher who consistently attained high achievement in he r preparation program. At the time of the study, Alisha was supporting the literacy needs of students with di sabilities during her student teaching experience. Richards and Morse characterized Alisha as compassionate, calm, composed, positive, and reflective. Alishas personal attributes especially her reflectiveness, influenced her practice in positive ways. By thinking about her students and their individual needs, Alisha was successful differentiating her instruction and providing her students with literacy tasks commensurate with their ability. Two years later, Garmon (20 04) conducted a case study of a pre-service teacher who successf ully acquired multicultural awar eness and sensitivity towards student diversity. Like Richards and Morse, Garmon found that the students open disposition and self-reflectiveness were among the key factor s influencing her succes s. Unlike Richards and


41 Morse, however, Garmon did not tie the particip ants personal attributes to her classroom practices. Self-efficacy A second important attribute characterizi ng successful pre-service teachers is self-efficacy. According to Tschannen-Moran, Wool folk Hoy, and Hoy (1998), self-efficacy is a term for a teachers judgment of his or her capa bilities to bring out desi red outcomes of student engagement and learning, even among the most challenging students. The concept of selfefficacy in pre-service teacher education is important, because as Bandura (1995) pointed out, peoples beliefs about their abiliti es will determine how much effort they put forth in situations and how resilient and persistent they will be in the f ace of obstacles. One potential obstacle for pre-service teachers is their student teaching, a time when their self-efficacy has been shown to decline (Hoy & Woolfolk, 1990). As Hoy and Woolfolk point out, the challenges of assuming teacher roles a nd responsibilities could disrupt pre-service teachers prior beliefs that teaching is easy, thus making them feel less capable. Under activity theory, it seems pre-service teachers who are mo re self-efficacious will reach higher levels of knowledge appropriation because they will persevere despite challenging coursework or practicum teaching placements. In 1980, Mundel-Atherstone examined the psyc hological characteris tics of pre-service teachers who received high ratings during their student teaching experience. These pre-service teachers personality profiles indicated they were poised and self-assured (self-efficacious), but the ways in which these profiles affected the pr e-service teachers appr opriation of tools and knowledge was never discussed. Alisha from th e Richards and Morse (2002) study also was found to have a high sense of self-efficacy. She had high expectations for her students and a high internal locus of control, meaning she felt sh e had the ability to influence her students


42 achievement. In another study, pre-service teacher s who exhibited high levels of self-efficacy were rated highly on lesson presentation, quest ioning, and classroom management by their cooperating teachers (Saklofske, Michaluk, & Randhawa, 1988). Poulu (2007) investigated contributory factors to pre-servi ce teachers developing self-effic acy. Poulu found that sources of pre-service teachers self -efficacious beliefs included a positive stance, enthusiasm, the ability to perceive students needs, and the ability to effectively organize instructional activities. Personal Goals, Expectations, and Concerns The final individual characteristic is pers onal goals, expectations, and concerns. As Grossman et al. (1999) pointed out, the reasons prospective teachers en ter teacher education programs will likely mediate their learning. Addi tionally, there is much research on teacher development that shows teachers, both in-service and pre-service, proceed through a series of phases that regulate their concer ns and anxieties about teachin g. In the following sections, research on pre-service teachers goals and expectations and their concerns is reviewed. Personal goals and expectations. Several researchers have examined how pre-service teachers personal goals influence their preparat ion experiences. Grossman et al., (1999) found that teacher candidates varying reasons for entering the teaching profession mediated their learning. In this study, one pre-se rvice teacher wanted to make instruction fun, while another wanted to provide students with the necessary tools for literac y. These differing goals led to different degrees of value on pragmatic literacy skills and their role in the language arts curriculum (p. 25). In their review of 44 studies on teacher candidates, Brookhart & Freeman (1992) found the most cited reasons pre-servi ce teachers gave for entering the teaching profession were to work with children, satisfy al truistic, service-oriented goals, and because they were driven by intrinsic s ources of motivation. Although Br ookhart & Freeman examined


43 teacher candidates motivations, th eir review did not explicate how or whether these motivations affected their preparation experiences. A diffe rent study, however, did link pre-service teachers goals with their preparation e xperiences. Sudzina and Knowles (1993) searched for explanations for why some pre-service teachers fail before completing their preparation programs. They found that pre-service teachers who entered their student teaching with unrealistic goals experienced many struggles. One pr e-service teacher in their study felt his job was to save the kids and the world (Sudzina & Knowles, p. 259). This participants unrealistic goal proved to be his undoing because he challenged his cooperating teachers authority and her actions under the pretense of doing what he considered to be the morally corr ect thing (p. 259). In addition to their personal goals and mo tivations for entering teaching, pre-service teachers expectations concerning their preparation program can influence their learning. Preservice teachers expect that fiel d placements and practical teachi ng experiences will be the most beneficial (Book & Freeman, 1986), perhaps resulti ng in their rejection of incoming knowledge from their university coursewor k, especially if the pre-service teachers cannot discern any direct practical applications. Sudzina and Knowles (1993) found that preservice teachers who did not succeed in their preparation pr ograms often failed to allocate sufficient planning time. These students underestimated the difficu lties involved with planning for and delivering instruction for a classroom of students. Their l ack of planning and organization of ten resulted in their practice being disjointed and unrespons ive to student needs. Concerns. Over the past 40 years, considerable research has accumulated supporting the notion that teachers concerns evolve through a series of stages (Berliner, 1988; Brookhart & Freeman, 1992; Fuller, 1969; Kagan, 1992; Pi gge & Marso, 1987, 1990). This research has shown that during their preparation programs, th e extent to which pre-service teachers value


44 various kinds of knowledge is largely dependent on their teaching concerns; thus, knowledge that is found to be useful in addressing their concerns a nd anxieties is appreciated more and given more attention. This line of research is impor tant to understanding how pre-service teachers appropriate tools and knowledge because it can possibly provide explanations for why certain types of knowledge are more easily appropriated compared to others. In a seminal article, Fuller (1969) outlined a three-phase developmental conceptualization of teacher concerns. Under the Fuller model, th e three phases are (a) pre-teaching, (b) early teaching, and (c) late teaching. The pre-teaching pha se occurs before the pre-service teacher has had any teaching experiences. At this time, th e pre-service teachers concerns are vague, consisting of generalized apprehension and anxiet y. Fuller referred to the pre-teaching phase as a time of non-concern. Concerns observed during the early teaching phase focus primarily on the self. Pre-service teachers worry about their adeq uacy as a teacher, their ability to manage students, and their evaluation by supervisors. In the final phase, concerns shift from the self to the students. Here teachers are more concerned w ith their impact on their students. It should be noted, that as with many stage or phase theories, for example, Kubler-Rosss (1969) Five Stages of Grief, individuals do not pr oceed through phases in a regime nted fashion. How and whether an individual proceeds through all the phases is largely dependent on the individual and his or her personal circumstances. Pigge and Marso (1990) corroborated the Fuller (1969) model in a longitudinal study of 153 pre-service teachers. Pigge and Marso found th at as pre-service teachers progressed through their preparation program, their concerns shifted from those of selfsurvival to those centering on the task of teaching and being an effective teacher. The research related to preservice teachers pe rsonal goals, expectations, and concerns plays an important role when examining the in fluence of pre-service teachers individual


45 characteristics on their learning. Th e literature reviewed in the prev ious section showed that preservice teachers appropri ation of conceptual and practical tool s could be influenced by (a) their reasons for entering the field of education, (b) thei r expectations of their preparation program, (c) their expectations of teaching itself, and (d) th eir personal concerns and anxieties about teaching. Of critical importance to teacher educators is th e research that indicat ed pre-service teachers enter preparation programs with nave expectat ions about how difficult teaching is and how much planning is necessary for delivering effectiv e instruction. For special education pre-service teachers, this seems particularly important, as these teachers will need to invest much time planning so they are able to provide targeted instruction for students w ith disabilities. Also important is the research that showed preservice teachers place mo st value on practical experiences, such as field experiences and st udent teaching. Finally, according to the Fuller (1969) model, before pre-service teachers will be ready to devote attention to securing high student achievement, they need to rectify their co ncerns with their own adequacies as developing teachers. According to the conceptual framework guidi ng this study, individual characteristics of learners comprise just one source of influe nce on pre-service teacher learning. The other potential sources of influence ar e the social contexts of pre-se rvice teacher learning, namely, the various components of teacher preparation programs. The remainder of this literature review will present research on the social contexts of pre-se rvice teacher learning and the features of these contexts that either support or hinder pedagogical t ool appropriation. Social Contexts of Pre-service Teacher Learning Ar med with their prior expe riences, knowledge, beliefs, expe ctations, and concerns, preservice teachers enter th e social contexts of pre-service teacher learning. Within preparation programs, pre-service teachers are exposed to a variety of learning contex ts and pedagogies. In


46 thinking about how pre-service teachers acquire knowledge and practice, it is important to examine what the research says about features of teacher preparation programs that hinder or support tool appropriation. In part icular, what are the characteris tics of programs that have proven successful in preparing pre-service teachers? Several studies have shown that effective pr eparation programs have a shared vision for teaching that permeates coursework and field experiences. In 2000, Darling-Hammond conducted case studies of seven exemplary teacher education programs. She found that the programs had a shared understanding of good teaching across all preparation stakeholders and across all courses and field experiences. Fang an d Ashley (2004) conducted an in-depth study of pre-service teachers interpretations of a field-ba sed reading block that combined three courses in reading instruction that previ ously had been taught separatel y. The combination of the three courses allowed the course instructors to co llaborate extensively to develop a coherent programmatic vision, resulting in the pre-serv ices teachers developing a comprehensive knowledge base about reading instruction for st ruggling readers. Fina lly, the International Reading Association (2003) sponsored NCEETPRI study of eight exemplar y reading preparation programs and found these exemplary reading progra ms were characterized by a literacy vision that was shared by all instructors. Subsequent IRA studies compar ed graduates of exemplary reading preparation programs to graduates who did not complete specialized reading programs. Th e results indicated that the graduates of the exemplary reading programs perf ormed better during their first three years of teaching than did graduates who did not comp lete the reading programs. These graduates demonstrated more sophisticated and appropriate beliefs. Specifically, graduates of exemplary programs valued their preparation, adopted a mi ndful and responsive inst ructional stance, and


47 sought ongoing support for themselves and their students (Maloch et al., 2003). These graduates also scored higher on the TEX-IN2 observation instrument, which assesses the classroom literacy environment (Hoffman et al., 2005). A ccording to the levels of appropriation under activity theory, the high level of congruence infused in these pr ograms will most likely support pre-service teachers tool appropriation. In addition to shared vision, the alignment of coursework and field experiences is a critical component of effective preparation programs. Darling-Hammond (2000) found that exemplary programs contained at least 30 hours of field experiences that s upported concurrent coursework. Pre-service teachers needed extensive opportuniti es to apply their new knowledge in practical settings (Fang & Ashley, 2004; IRA, 2003). Duff y and Atkinson (2001) analyzed the reflection essays, lesson plans, and tutoring logs of 22 pr e-service teachers enrolled in teacher education courses to see how these students beliefs about struggling reader s and reading practices evolved over the course of a year. The pre-service teachers took courses focused on reading instruction and the assessment of diverse learners. Both co urses had an internship component with the assessment course requiring the pre-service te achers to tutor a struggling reader. After completing qualitative content analysis, the res earchers found that the pre-service teachers improved in their abilities to in tegrate their personal, practical, and professional knowledge about reading instruction, and they decreased their mi sunderstandings surroundi ng reading instruction. They increased in their ability to critically analyze reading instruc tion in terms of theory and best practice and reported increased estimations of th eir preparedness to teach struggling readers. Linek et al. (1999) studied the beliefs and self-repor ts of pre-service teachers from three different literacy methods courses. Seven pre-service teachers were in a course that had no field placement. Twenty-five students were enrolled in a course that had an unsupervised field


48 placement, and eight pre-service te achers were in a course with a supervised field placement. Students who were in the course that had no fi eld placement reported feeling overwhelmed from not having an opportunity to enact their newly acquired literacy knowledge. The students in the courses containing field placements reported that the field placement and its related practical activities were most influen tial to their learning. Finall y, Wilson, Floden, and Ferrini-Mundy (2001) conducted a literature revi ew on teacher preparation and f ound that the quality of student teaching experiences varies, but the best experien ces are characterized as being focused and well structured. Another important feature of effective prepar ation programs is methods courses designed to deepen pedagogical content knowledge (Dar ling-Hammond, 2000). The National Center for Research on Teacher Learning (1991) examin ed seven pre-service teacher programs. The researchers found that the main distinction be tween the programs influence on pre-service teacher learning was whether a programs substa nce was considered traditional or reform. Traditional programs paid little attention to subject matter and emphasized classroom organization. Reform programs emphasized subj ect-specific teaching. From the review on preservice teachers incoming knowledge and beliefs, this factor seems especially important because there is evidence that preservice teachers la ck knowledge about phonics and phonemic awareness (Bos et al., 2001). Finally, in their study of pre-service teacher beliefs, Nierstheimer et al. (2000) found that pre-service teachers participation in an intense reading tutoring program for struggling readers helped the pre-service teachers adopt more interventionist beliefs about helping struggling readers. The reading tutor program provided the preservice teachers with opportunities to enact pedagogical content know ledge about reading.


49 Several studies have linked teachers part icipation in courses emphasizing pedagogical content knowledge with student achievement. M onk (1994) found that teachers participation in mathematics courses designed to provide pedagog ical content knowledge resulted in a valueadded effect on students achievement. Guarino, Hamilton, Lockwood, and Rathbun (2006) studied kindergarten teachers a nd found that those teachers who participated in more methods courses in reading and mathematics reported more classroom practices kn own to be associated with greater student achievement compar ed to teachers with fewer courses. Finally, preparation programs should be collaborative across activity systems. Cooperating teachers have a profound impact on pre-service teachers (Wilson et al., 2001), thus teacher educators need to form productive and collabora tive partnerships with cooperating teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2000; IRA, 2003). Sudzina a nd Knowles (1993) found that pre-service teachers who failed during their preparation program often had student teaching placements characterized by mismatches in philosophies, methods, and styles between the pre-service teacher, the cooperating teacher, th e field supervisor, and the prep aration program as a whole. More recently, Pierce (2004) found mismatches between pre-service teachers literacy coursework and their student te aching experiences. The pre-se rvice teachers in this study expressed frustrations because they could not implement their newly acquired knowledge during their student teaching experience. For instance, th e pre-service teachers learned about the value of small, flexible groupings for reading instruct ion, yet their student teaching experiences made use of whole-group instruction, thus proving to be obstacles to enacting the new knowledge about reading groups. There is only one analysis that examines the current state of speci al education teacher programming in light of research on exemplary teacher education programs. Brownell, Ross,


50 Colon and McCallum (2005) found in a review of special education programs, the faculty stressed the importance of collaboration and well -planned and well-supervis ed field experiences. These programs also focused on issues of diversity and on the evaluati on of student learning either through direct or indi rect assessment. The special education programs adopted more positivist rather than constructivist epistemologi cal views, with few programs revealing a strong programmatic vision. Finally, the special education programs st ressed general pedagogical knowledge such as instructional methods and indi vidualized education plans rather than subject specific pedagogy. It can be assumed that the we ll-planned field experiences that characterize effective special education programs will s upport pre-service teacher learning and tool appropriation, however, the lack of a strong prog rammatic vision could pr ove to be a barrier because pre-service teacher might not receiv e congruent messages. Also, knowing that preservice teachers enter preparation programs with lack of know ledge for teaching reading to students with disabilities, the la ck of subject specific pedagogy could also be problematic in integrating knowledge to appropria te tools. These are merely spec ulations as Brownell et al. did not tie the special education programs to important teacher or student outcomes. The above literature indicates that effective general education pre-service teacher programs are cohesive, collaborative, and purposefully designed to deepen pedagogical content knowledge (Darling-Hammond, 2000; IRA, 2003; Wilson et al ., 2001). With only one analysis of special education teacher preparation programs, the field of special education is in need of more studies that examine and evaluate various preparation program elements. Specifically, what program components seem to matter in special educat ion pre-service teachers construction of knowledge? Do prospective teacher s incoming beliefs and knowledge differentially interact with these program components? Finally, what are the implications of special education


51 programs that emphasize general pedagogical k nowledge over pedagogi cal content knowledge? In other words, what are the implications of programs that emphasize knowledge of general instructional practices over know ledge that is necessary to e ffectively convey content to students? All of these questions represent potential sources of influence for knowledge acquisition and tool appropriation. Conclusion As this rev iew of the literature has shown, the individual characteristics of pre-service teachers such as their incoming beliefs, prior expe riences, expectations, at tributes, and concerns are influential to their learning. Their beliefs and prior experiences are based on pre-service teachers own time spent as students. Pre-servic e teachers prior belief s and experiences will likely influence the degree to which conceptual and practical tools are appropriated. Where there is congruence between pre-service teacher prior beliefs and new tools and knowledge, appropriation should be supported. In instances where a pre-servic e teachers prior beliefs and experiences are in opposition to new tools and knowledge, appropriation will difficult (if not impossible). For teacher educators hoping to alter pre-service teacher beliefs to support new tools and knowledge, extensive time and support will be necessary (Kennedy, 1991; NCRTL, 1991; Wideen, Mayer-Smith, & Moon, 1998). The research also indicated that pre-service teachers personal expectations, attributes, and concerns are influential to their learning. In essence, preservice teachers pay particular at tention to those experiences that they believe are most relevant and useful to helping overcome their concerns. In the area of special education, however, the role of incoming beliefs, experiences, and expectations is not well underst ood in the literature ye t. The majority of pre-service teachers have had few prior experiences in special educat ion and with students with disabilities. These


52 pre-service teachers may be open to new understandi ngs about special education, or their lack of prior experiences and knowledge may be large barriers for teacher educ ators to overcome. The structure of social learni ng contexts, namely the preparation program, is an important factor in facilitating or hindering the appropriation of tools by pre-service teachers. First, preparation programs that support teacher learning have a shared vision and alignment across coursework, personnel, and field experien ces (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Fang & Ashley, 2004; IRA, 2003; Wilson, et al., 2001). It can be assumed that tool appropriation will be easier if preservice teachers receive sim ilar messages and philosophies th roughout the preparation program. For example, a pre-service teacher who comple tes a reading methods course emphasizing the benefits of explicit systematic reading instructio n and then witnesses this type of instruction during a field placement will more likely appropriate such conceptual and practical tools. Second, exemplary programs provide pre-serv ice teachers with opportunities to deepen pedagogical content knowledge (Darling-Ha mmond, 2000; NCRTL, 2001). For special education pre-service teachers, opportunities to deepen pedag ogical content knowledge may not be as readily available compared to their genera l education counterparts. Traditionally, the field of special education has been ch aracterized by a lack of subject specific preparation, more often emphasizing general pedagogical practices. Finally, effective programs are characterized by collaboration across university personnel and cooperating teachers in the field (Darling-Hammond, 2000; IRA, 2003; Wilson et al., 2001). A lack of coordination and communication betwee n the university context and field experiences can lead to confusion and frustration on the part of the pre-service teach er and therefore will affect knowledge appropriation negatively.


53 Unfortunately, the limited existing research base on special educa tion teacher programs jeopardizes clear understandings of how these programs influence special education pre-service teacher learning and knowledge acquisition. In other words, especially in the field of special education, there is still much work to be done to determine the ways in which teacher preparation matters. It is crucial, therefore, that we engage in research that will illuminate the ways in which special education pre-service teachers acquire knowledge and appropriate pedagogical tools for teaching students with disabilities and the role(s ) preparation programs play in this acquisition and appropriation.


54 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN Introduction The purpose of this qualitative study is to in vestigate how learning experiences in special education teacher preparation programs relate to teacher candidates in the context of reading instruction. More specif ically, the purpose of this study is to examin e special education preservice teachers appropri ation of pedagogical tools for reading instru ction, as it is enacted in the classroom, for students with mild disabilities. Empirical data coll ected from classrooms in which special education pre-service teachers enact read ing instruction will be used to develop grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Such grounded theory will help gain an understanding of the interactions among special education pre-servic e teachers (specifically their individual characteristics), thei r social contexts for reading pr eparation, and their enactment of reading instruction. Theoretical Background The theoretical perspective underly ing this qualitative study is constructivism. A critical tenet of constructivism is that individuals ar e viewed as active agen ts, acquiring knowledge about the world through experien ces with their environments (C rotty, 1998). Constructivism is well aligned with the principles of activity theory. For example, a primary tenet of constructivism is that multiple realities exist and that the kno wer and respondent (in this case teacher educators and pre-service teachers) co -create understandings of the world (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). The idea of multip le realities and multiple knowers and respondents coincides with activity theorys position that learning oc curs across various learning contexts. In the constructivist framework, the participants pe rceptions and meaning-making are of primary importance (Lincoln & Guba, 2000). With construc tivism as the theoreti cal perspective, the


55 participants are viewed as the experts, and thei r constructions of knowledge will be of particular interest. In this study, it is assumed that pre-service teachers are active participants in constructing and enacting their knowledge about teaching reading to students with disabilities. The preservice teachers knowledge about reading instruction for students with disabilities is a product of their prior experiences with schooling and their ongoing interactions with the various experiences in the Unified Elem entary PROTEACH program. According to constructivism, the pre-service teachers in this study may constr uct knowledge for reading instruction and knowledge about students with disabilities differe ntly, despite completing the same preparation program. By gaining a more comprehensive unde rstanding of the various ways in which preservice teachers construct knowle dge about reading instruction fo r students with disabilities, hopefully, special education teacher educators can us e this information to craft effective special education preparation programs that will bene fit pre-service teachers from a variety of backgrounds. Research Design To answer the research questions of th is study, qualitative research methodology was employed. The purpose of qualitative methods is to gain in-depth information that leads to greater understandings about social phenomen a (Creswell, 1998). Qualitative research methodology necessitates close examin ation of a social phenomenon in its natural settings so that rich descriptions about the phenomenon can be produced (Merriam, 1995). Such in-depth examinations allow researchers to gain insigh ts about a phenomenon and subsequently, develop a plan of action. The descriptive and inductive nature of qualitative i nquiry can lead to the formation of hypotheses and theory, allowing the researchers analyses to have explanatory


56 power. Therefore, qualitative research was appr opriate to study how pre-service teachers construct knowledge and explain how they inte ract with their prep aratory experiences. Qualitative methods are well suited for i nvestigations aimed at studying social phenomenon for which there is little existing info rmation. The lack of information about special education teacher preparation programs and their in fluence on pre-service teachers constructions of knowledge makes qualitative methods ideal for this study. Sample Selection Pre-service Teachers To understand how individuals and teacher e ducation p rograms interact, it was necessary to secure a sample of participants who had heterogeneous beliefs, knowledge, and prior experiences concerning reading in struction and students with disa bilities. It was important to recruit participants whose incoming beliefs, pr ior experiences, and most importantly, knowledge about reading instruction differed, so that the researcher could di scern and explain differences in their interactions with their prep aration program and in their appr opriation of instructional tools and knowledge. To obtain such a sample, the particip ants were selected us ing purposive criterion sampling techniques that were gr ouped into two phases, each of which is described below. Phase I sample selection. The purpose of phase I sampling was to create a list of preservice teachers whose pract icum placement environments fit the study parameters. To participate in this study, pre-se rvice teachers had to (a) be fi rst semester special education Masters level students in the Unified Elementary PROTEACH program, (b) have fall 2007 Alachua County practicum placements in elementa ry classrooms that required work with students with mild disabilities, and (c) provide reading instruction to students during the practicum placement. The researcher worked in conjunction with the special education


57 supervisor of field experiences to generate a list of pre-service teachers who met the above selection criteria. Eighteen pre-service teachers fit the selection criteria. Phase II sample selection The purpose of phase II sampling was to ensure that the final sample was small to allow for in-depth examination and time in the field and included participants who represented diverse backgrounds and knowledge bases. The researcher asked the 18 pre-service teachers to complete an openended survey assessing their beliefs and prior experiences as well as a concept map that a ssessed their knowledge abou t reading instruction. The survey and concept map are included in Appendix A. After reviewing the surveys and concept maps, the researcher narrowed the sample size to eight pre-service teachers. To narrow the sample from 18 to 8, the researcher used a vari ety of criteria. First, th e researcher sorted the concept maps into three groups according to their level of detail and sophistication. The groupings represented low detail and sophistication (N=4), medium detail and sophistication (N=9), and high detail and sophist ication (N=5). Then, within each of the three groups, the researcher evaluated the pre-service teachers pr ior experiences with children with disabilities, their experiences during their K-12 schooling, and their beliefs about re ading instruction for students with disabilities, looking particularly for pre-service teachers whose prior experiences and beliefs varied. The result was eight preservice teachers who varied in their prior experiences, beliefs, and knowledge. Before establishing the final sample, the researcher questioned each of the eight preservice teachers individually about their concep t maps. This allowed the researcher to gain a clearer understanding of the pr e-service teachers beliefs and knowledge about reading instruction. Additionally, the res earcher questioned the eight pr e-service teachers about their practicum placements. Two pre-service teachers were dropped from the final sample because,


58 though their practicum placements were in inclus ive classrooms, they reported having little individual interaction with student s with disabilities, thus they were eliminated from the final sample. The final sample was narrowed to six pre-servic e teachers. This sample size allowed for indepth examination and fieldwork while also in cluding a representation of various backgrounds, beliefs, and prior knowledge. The researcher a ttended the pre-service teachers practicum seminar class and invited the final six pre-se rvice teachers to participate in the study. The participants were recruited under the permission of the University of Flor ida Institutional Review Board (UFIRB) as well as the department of Re search, Assessment, and School Information of the School Board of Alachua C ounty (Appendix B). Decisions for participation were strictly voluntary. For her participation, each pre-serv ice teacher received a $50 gift card and was exempt from one class assignment from the pr acticum seminar course. Specific information about each participant is incl uded in a subsequent section. It should be noted that the researcher also administered The Content Knowledge for Teaching Reading Survey developed by Phelps an d Schilling (2004) as part of the sample selection procedure. The Phelps and Shilling Content Knowledge for Teaching Reading Survey is comprised of 119 items categorized into 3 subscales: (a) knowle dge of content in comprehension, (b) knowledge of content and t eaching in comprehension, and (c) knowledge of content in word analysis. This assessment was intended to help the researcher discern differences between the pre-se rvice teachers incoming knowledge about teaching reading. The survey results indicated, however, only slight diffe rences in the pre-service teachers scores. The average of the final six participants scores was 89 out of 119 items. Th e six participants had


59 scores in the mid-80s to 90s, with the exception of one student, Kristy, who scored more than 15 points below the mean. PROTEACH Instructors and Field Supervisors Because teacher educato rs and field supervisors are active agents in fa cilitating pre-service teachers acquisition and enactment of knowledge it was necessary for the researcher to understand the perspectives teacher educators br ought to preparation contexts. Furthermore, according to activity theory, teacher educators an d field supervisors are an integral part of activity systems, thus th eir participation in this study was essential. The pre-service teachers field supervisors and teacher educators who taught reading methods courses were invited to participate in the study. The pre-service teachers named a total of three field supervisors and seven teacher educators. The researcher sent an email inviting these field supervisors and teacher educators to participate. The researcher receive d positive replies from all three field supervisors and six of the teacher educators. One teacher ed ucator did not reply to repeated email and phone messages. The field supervisors and teacher educ ators participation was strictly voluntary and was secured with the approval of the UFIRB (Appendix B). Cooperating Teachers Sim ilar to the field supervisors and teacher educators, cooperating teachers are important agents in the larger preparation activity system, thus the cooperating teachers perspectives were sought. To examine the role of the cooperating teacher in helping the pre-service teachers construct knowledge about reading instruction, th e cooperating teacher paired with each of the six pre-service teachers was i nvited to participate via phone or email. All six cooperating teachers agreed to participate in the study. Their participation was strictly voluntary and was secured under the permission of the UFIRB as we ll as the department of Research, Assessment,


60 and School Information of the School Board of Alachua County (Appendix B). For her participation, each cooperating teacher received a $25 gift card. Participant and Practicum Placement Information Based on the results of the selection procedur es, six pre-service teachers (5 Caucasian; 1 Indian) were recruited for this study. In the following sections, information about each preservice teacher, including he r prior experiences and beliefs her cooperating teacher, her practicum placement, and her reading coursework is provided. Table 3-1 provides a summary of this information. Table 3-2 provides more specifi c information about each pre-service teachers practicum placement. All names, including school na mes, have been replaced with pseudonyms. Pre-service Teachers and Cooperating Teachers Anita and Mrs. Adams. Anita was 22 years old and of Indi an descent. Anita attend ed an international school in Thailand for grades pre-K through 12. Anita valued this experience because of the diverse make-up of students and t eachers. Anitas mother was a teacher at this school. Anita hopes to one day be an internationa l schoolteacher. During the PROTEACH program, Anita was placed in Kindergarten, first, and second grade inclusive classroo ms. She described the Kindergarten and second grade classrooms as being wonderful experiences, which allowed her to see many theories put into practice. Her second grade experience, however, was not as helpful because she viewed many of the instructional practices to be ineffective and obsolete. When asked about her beliefs about how best to teach students with disabilities how to read, Anitas response centered on the importance of systematic, step-by-st ep direct instruction formats. She believed in the use of small group instruction and providing students with multiple opportunities to practice and generalize th eir skills. Finally, Anita believed modeling


61 good reading habits, sharing ent husiasm for reading, and readi ng for different purposes is important. Anitas practicum placement was in a 3rd grade inclusive classroom at Washington Elementary. Washington Elementary Schools per centage of students on free/reduced lunch was approximately 36 and its minority rate was 43%. During the 90-mi nute reading instruction block, the 3rd graders were ability grouped into above grad e level reading classrooms and at or below grade level reading classrooms. Anitas class fo r reading instruction was the average to below average reading group, and within this reading classroom, there were 4 students with mild disabilities. Anitas cooperating teacher was Mrs. Adams. Mrs. Adams was a general educator who began her teaching career as a Kindergarten teacher at a privat e school, after which time she taught 4th grade for 9 years in public schools. Mrs. Adams has been at Washington Elementary for two years, and this was her first time teaching 3rd grade. For reading instruction, Mrs. Adams used the district adopted Harcour t Brace reading series and she also pulled in elements from the Success for All (SFA) model. Colleen and Mrs. Carter. Colleen was 22 years old and Ca ucasian. She attended school in a predominantly white middle-class school di strict in New York. Before completing her practicum, she had no experiences teaching children to read. She did, however, have more extensive prior experien ces with students with disabilitie s as her younger brother was diagnosed with Autism. Her pre-internship placement was in a 5th grade inclusive classroom, and she also spent a semester volunteering at a school fo r students with emo tional handicaps.


62 Colleen believed that it is cruc ial to teach students with lear ning disabilities how to read because it is a vital life skill. In her opinion, the best approach is to discover how each child learns the best and tailor th e instruction individually. For her practicum, Colleen worked with Kindergartners and 1st graders at Clinton Elementary. Serving approximately 800 students, Clinton Elementary was the largest of the schools in this study. About one th ird of the students at this sc hool were on free/reduced lunch and 45% of the student populati on was classified in the minority rate. The service delivery model that was used in Kindergarten and 1st grade was a push in/pull out model for reading and math. Colleen worked with the lowest ability st udents for reading and ma th in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Mrs. Carter, Colleens coope rating teacher, was in her 14th year of teaching. Mrs. Carter had taught in elementary self-contained special education classrooms for 12 years until Clinton Elementary transitioned to an inclusive model. For the past 2 years, Mrs. Carter has worked as a co-teacher in inclus ive Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms and has also worked as a resource teacher for students who need intensive remediat ion. For reading instruction, Mrs. Carter used the Harcourt reading series but also relied on Reading Mastery. Kristy and Mrs. Kirk. Kristy was 27 years old and a ttended school in rural South Carolina in predominantly low SES schools. Sh e dropped out of school her senior year and received her diploma through an adult educa tion program. Before beginning her practicum, Kristy had few prior experiences with student s with disabilities. One of her prior field experiences was in a 5th grade inclusive classroom in a rural area.


63 Kristy believed reading shoul d be a fusion of both phonemic awareness and phonics and a holistic approach. In her view, st udents should interact socially. Finally, Kristy felt that it was important to assess students and accentuate what they were good at. Kristys practicum was at Kennedy Elementa ry, a school comprised of approximately 460 students. At Kennedy Elementary, almost half of the students were on free/reduced lunch and were minorities. Kristy completed her practicum in a multi-age K-2 inclusive classroom. Mrs. Kirk was Kristys cooperating teacher. Mrs. Kirk was in her 35th year of teaching as a general educator, and tau ght all grade levels from K-5. At th e time of the study, Mrs. Kirk taught a multi-age inclusive class of Kindergartners, 1st, and 2nd graders. For reading, Mrs. Kirk used the Harcourt Trophies reading se ries and structured reading ar ound a program called the Daily 5. The Daily 5 was composed of time for students to read to self, read to others, be read to, practice writing, and practice word work. Melanie and Mrs. Monroe. Melanie was 22 years old. As a student she attended predominantly white, middle class schools. For th ree summers, Melanie worked at a camp for students who had hearing or speech impairments or who were developmentally delayed. Prior to her practicum, Melanie had e xperiences in an inclusive 1st grade classroom. When discussing her beliefs about reading instruction for students w ith disabilities, Melanie thought it was important to teach them to their appropr iate learning style. Te st different methods, then use what works best and gets the best results. Like Colleen, Melanies practicum placement was at Clinton Elementary. Melanie was in an inclusive 2nd grade classroom. In the 2nd grade at Clinton Elementary, the students were placed in leveled reading groups. For reading, Melanie and her cooperating teacher, Mrs. Monroe, worked with the two lowest abil ity reading groups, using Reading Mastery.


64 Mrs. Monroe, now in her 10th year of teaching, began her te aching career as a Kindergarten teacher and then moved to 2nd grade. She then became a Title 1 teacher, after which time she worked as a consultant for SRA McGraw-Hill for 3 years. She returned to the classroom as a second grade teacher. As the primary read ing instructor for the most fragile 2nd grade readers, Mrs. Monroe used Reading Mastery. Nancy and Mrs. Nell. Nancy, 25 years old, attended a mi xture of suburban and rural schools. Her high school was comprised of a dive rse student body with a large number of ESOL students. Nancy completed UFLI training and tuto red a child with a lear ning disability. All of Nancys PROTEACH placements were in schools with high numbers of students on free/reduced lunch. Her practicum placement was at Rooseve lt Elementary, a school of about 460 students. Approximately 90% of the students at Rooseve lt Elementary were on free/reduced lunch and nearly 100% were in the schools minority rate Nancy believed teachers must find students strengths and build upon them because this will help in working on their weaknesses. She also valued providing students with individual attent ion commenting, it is important to work with these students one-on-one as often as possible. At Roosevelt Elementary, Nancy was placed in an inclusive 3rd grade classroom. For reading instruction, the school followed the Succe ss for All (SFA) model, a model that requires ability grouping across the entire school population. Nancy and he r cooperating teacher, Mrs. Nell, were responsible for teachi ng students who were reading on a 3rd grade 2nd month level. Mrs. Nell was in her 7th year of teaching as a general e ducator at Roosevelt Elementary. Her teaching experiences were in 2nd and 3rd grade. For reading, Mrs. Nell used the Harcourt Trophies reading series as well as materi als from the school wide SFA curriculum.


65 Tricia and Mrs. Taylor. Tricia was 22 years old and attended a private college preparatory school for grades K-12. This school emphasized Judeo-Christian values and was composed of primarily upper-middle class white st udents. Tricias prior field experiences were in a 1st grade classroom and in a high school class at an alternative school for students with emotional handicaps. When asked about her beliefs about reading inst ruction for students with disabilities, Tricia said, I believe students with disa bilities learn how to read when someone takes a vested interest in their progress. One-on-one and small group learni ng helps, as well as rep eated, explicit, direct instruction and plenty of opportunities to practice. For Tricias practicum, she was placed at Lincoln Elementary School. This schools population consisted of about 45% of students on free/reduced lunch a nd about 42% in the minority rate. Tricia worked with a special educ ator who provided a variety of services to students in grades K-3. Tricia and her cooperatin g teacher, Mrs. Taylor, had a resource room, but they also provided small group instruction in students general education classrooms. Mrs. Taylor was in her 32nd year as a special educator. Sh e had a variety of experiences during her teaching career including being a 1st grade general educator, a self-contained special educator for students with mental handicaps, a hospital homebound teacher, a special education resource teacher, and a special education incl usion teacher. She has taught in both elementary and middle schools as well. For r eading instruction, Mrs. Taylor used both the Harcourt Trophies reading series as well as Reading Mastery. Unified Elementary PROTEACH Program The six pre-service teache rs participated in the Unified Elementary PROTEACH program, which is a joint program between the School of Teaching and Learning and the Department of Special Education. The PROTEACH program was the overarching social context


66 in which the pre-service teachers prepara tion took place. According to the PROTEACH handbook: The Unified Elementary Proteach program (UEP ) is designed to prepare teachers with a dual emphasis in elementary education and mild disabilities. All graduates also will be prepared to work with students who are English Speakers of Other Languages. The purpose of this program is to prepare t eachers who are capable of: (a) creating and maintaining supportive and productive classroom s for diverse populations and (b) working collaboratively with school personnel, families, and members of the community to develop alternative ways of educating all children, incl uding those who present unique instructional and/or behavioral challenges to teachers. With the exception of a few elective courses, all PROTEACH student s completed uniform programs. Once completing the undergraduate program requirements, pre-service teachers were awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Education (B.A.E.) Then they chose a specialization for their fifth year of Master of Education coursework. All of the participants in th is study chose a special education specialization. Among the courses pre-service teachers took while participating in this study were Intervention for Language and Learning Di sabilities, Mild Disabilities Concentration: Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction, ESOL Curriculum and Assessment, and Assessment in General and Exceptional Student Education. In addition to coursework, PROTEACH students engaged in a series of field experiences, wh ich took place in the community and local schools. These field components commenced in the fifth semester of undergraduate study and culminated in internships during the graduate year of study. Reading Courses and Instructors Six teacher educators taught courses related to reading instruction to the six pre-service participants. The courses were Emergent Lite racy, Reading in the Intermediate Grades, Intervention for Language and Lear ning Disabilities, and University of Florida Literacy Initiative (UFLI) tutoring. Information about e ach course and its instructor(s ) is provided in the following sections.


67 Emergent literacy. The purpose of the Emergent Liter acy course was to provide preservice teachers with an overvie w of the reading process in early readers. The course objectives included To gain a general understanding of the development of literacy in young children (grades K-3). To identify common terms and conc epts related to literacy and use them comprehensibly in discussions and demonstrations. To describe and implement reading instructi onal practices based on scientifically-based reading research. To identify and define the critical elements of reading instruction in grades K-3 and demonstrate examples of effective instruction for each element. To demonstrate the ability to assess early lit eracy skills and use assessment data to inform instruction (including grouping and planning appropriate lessons). To demonstrate the ability to critically review and use a core reading program. To identify grouping practices a nd their purposes in reading instruction and describe the process for using grouping effectively. To describe a framework or approach fo r identifying struggling readers and providing support for them. To gain an understanding of the link between language and literacy development and the link between language disabilitie s and the developmen t of reading disabilities for culturally and linguistically diverse students. To design an environment that enhances literacy development based on knowledge of research based practices. To identify characteristics of a struggling reader and components of an intervention plan to address the students needs. To achieve these objectives, pre-service teach ers were required to participate in class demonstrations of reading skills, conduct an observation of early reading instruction, participate in Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) training, complete a case study of a struggling reader, and complete a core reading plan description.


68 Two course instructors, Instructors A and D, taught the Emergent Literacy class to the study participants. Although they ta ught different sections of th e course, these two instructors had the same course objectives and requirement s. Instructor A was a doctoral student studying early childhood education, and this was her 4th time teaching the Emergent Literacy course. Anita and Tricia were enrolled in Instructor As sec tion. Instructor D had her Masters degree and was an adjunct instructor for the univers ity. Instructor D had taught several PROTEACH courses including Teachers and Learners in Inclus ive Schools, Core Teaching Strategies, and the Emergent Literacy Course. Instructor D taught Colleen, Kristy, and Melanie. Reading in the intermediate grades. The purpose of Reading in the Intermediate Grades was to prepare pre-service teachers to deliver expl icit, strategic, literacy instruction to diverse learners in the intermediate grades. Th e course objectives were as follows: Encapsulate the processes of proficient readers Designs activities that develop all PK-12 stude nts critical and creative thinking through effective strategy instruction that fits the complexity and diverse needs of intermediate readers Integrate reading instruct ion across the curriculum Develop a problemsolution model that follows the principles of assessment-guided instruction Create a learning environment that promotes thinking, active learning and relates to students interests and ideas Locate professional development for identified areas of needed to implement a balanced Literacy Framework Instructor B was a Specialist student in the Teaching and Learning Department. This was her first time teaching the Reading in the Intermedia te Grades course and enrolled in her section were Colleen and Anita. Instructor E was a Lect urer in the Teaching a nd Learning Department who specialized in curriculum and instruction, particularly in th e area of reading. Kristy, Nancy,


69 and Tricia were in Instructor Es course section. Like the Emergent Literacy course, the instructors for the Reading in the Intermediate Grades followed a similar course structure. Interventions for language and learning disabilities. The purpose of this course was to develop pre-service teachers unde rstandings of language developmen t and disorders. The course objectives included: Identify the sequence of expressive a nd receptive language development and the components of language structure. Relate theories of language acquisition and learning, includ ing those of second language learning. Understand the organization of written and s poken English according to the five major components of language Analyze assessments to identify communication difficulties and select appropriate, evidence-based interventions. Select strategies for integrating communica tion instruction into educational settings. The only participant who had taken this class wa s Nancy and her instructor was Instructor F. Instructor F, a doctoral student in the Special Education departme nt, had taught this course more than four times before, in both face to face and online formats. UFLI tutoring. The purpose of the UFLI tutoring pr ogram was to provide pre-service teachers with a tool that would help them understand the in-depth process of learning to read. The program was designed to be used daily with a tutee according to the following components: Gaining Fluency (5-8 Minutes) Measuring Progress (3-4 Minutes) Writing for Reading (10 Minutes) Reading a New Book (10 Minutes) Extending Literacy (2-8 Minutes) Instructor C facilitated all of the UFLI tutori ng training sessions. Instructor C, an Associate Professor in the department of Special Educat ion, specialized in ear ly reading instruction,


70 particularly for struggling readers, and she wa s the primary developer of the UFLI tutoring program. Field Supervisors Three field supervisors participated in th is study. Each field supervisor had extensive experiences in the field of education. The res ponsibilities of the fiel d supervisors included conducting classroom observations of the pre-se rvice teachers during their practicum placement and conducting pre and post lesson conferences. Th e field supervisors were in an evaluative position, helping the pre-service teachers understand their strengths and wea knesses to ultimately improve their classroom practice. The field s upervisors primary evaluative tool was the Pathwise observation tool. Information about each field supervisor is provided below. Mrs. Grant. Mrs. Grant worked in the field of education for 37 years as an elementary teacher, an assistant principal, and an elementary principal. After retiring from the school system, Mrs. Grant wanted to stay involved in the field of educa tion and contacted the coordinator of the intern ship program about securing a position as a field supervisor. This was Mrs. Grants third semester as a field supervisor. Mrs. Grant supe rvised Anita, Colleen, Melanie, and Tricia. Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith has been in the field of education for over 16 years. She taught Kindergarten, 1st, 4th, and 5th grade. Periodically throughout he r teaching career, she left the classroom to run her own business. This was Mrs. Smiths third semester as a field supervisor and she supervised Kristy. Mrs. Baker. Mrs. Baker was a Special Education doc toral student who had a Masters in special education and a Masters in social work. Prior to enrolli ng in the doctoral program, Mrs. Baker had more than six years teaching experien ce with students with emotional handicaps and behavior disorders in all grade levels. The major ity of her teaching experience was at the middle


71 at high school levels. She also ha d administrative experience as a dean and a principal of an all girls residential facility. This was Mrs. Baker s first semester as a field supervisor, and she supervised Nancy Procedure The purpose of this study was to exam ine special education pre-service teachers appropriation of tools and acquisition of knowledge of reading instruction for students with mild disabilities, primarily focusing on interactions among special educati on pre-service teachers (specifically their beliefs and pr ior experiences), their reading pr eparation, and their enactment of reading instruction. Data colle ction and analysis procedures addressed such a purpose. Data Collection This qualitative study was conducted using videotaped observations, interviews, openended surveys, and artifacts as sources of da ta. Detailed descriptions of data collection procedures are presented in the following sections. Observations. For each pre-service teacher, thre e videotaped observations were conducted. The purpose of the observations was to record the participants reading instruction and classroom practices during their practicum experience. The observations enabled the researcher to see the level (accord ing to Grossman et al.s (1999) fi ve levels of appropriation) to which the pre-service teachers were appropria ting tools for reading instruction, a critical component of the activity theory framework. Th e videotaped classroom observations also enabled the participants to view their teachi ng and reflect on their reading practices during subsequent interview sessions. The observations occurred at roughly the begi nning, middle, and end of the semester. A data collection timeline is provided in Table 33. The observations were scheduled ahead of time and lasted between 30 and 90 minutes depe nding on the length of reading lesson.


72 During each observation, the researcher took extensive observation fi eld notes on a laptop computer. When completing field notes, the goa l was to focus on the tools, knowledge, and strategies used by pre-service teachers and the le vel to which they were appropriated. These field notes provided rich descriptions of the participants reading inst ructional practices and proved to be helpful in triangulating the data. To help ensure the trustworthiness and credibility of the field notes, an external auditor was asked to view four (or roughly 16 %) of the videotaped observations and complete field notes. The rese archer and the doctoral student compared field notes for the four observations, verifying that both persons observed the same instructional practices. Immediately following each observation, the re searcher rated the pr e-service teachers reading practices using the observation instrument tool that Brownell et al (in press) modified from Baker, Gersten, Haager, Dingle, & Goldenberg (2004). The Reading Instruction in Special Education Observation Instrument (RISE ) consists of 22 items that address the following areas: Instructional Practices, Gene ral Instructional Environmen t, Decoding, Comprehension, Classroom Management and Overall Classroom Pr actice. Observers use a 1-4 Likert scale to evaluate a teachers performance on each of the 22 items. A score of 1 represents Low Quality for an item and a 4 represents High Quality. The purpose of using the RISE in this study was to document the pre-service teachers growth over time, thus serving as a rudimentary indicator of the pre-service teachers enactmen t of reading instruction knowledge. Brownell and her colleagues validated the RISE using four forms of evidence (content validity, response process evidence internal structure validity, and criterion validity). Content validity was established through di scussions informed by research on effective special education and reading instruction and e xperts input on teaching and obs erving in special education


73 classrooms. For response pro cess evidence, the researchers conducted pilot tests using the instrument. Research members debriefed after th e pilot observations and discussed use of the instrument and the participants performance. Internal struct ure validity of the RISE was established by examining corrected item-total corre lation coefficients for the entire instrument and each of the subscales. Correct ed item-total correlation coefficients ranged from .5 to .8. To establish criterion validity, Brow nell et al. employed hierarchical linear modeling analyses to determine the proportion of variance contribu ted to student reading achievement gains by average overall practice as well as subscale scores on the RI SE. The proportion of variance contributed to gains in oral reading fluency by overall classroom prac tice was .37 for beginning teachers. General instructional environment contributed 48% of the variance, and classroom management contributed 59%. Re liability of the RISE was es tablished by calculating alpha coefficients for the entire scale (.92) and subscales (.88 to .94). To establish inter-rater relia bility, an external auditor who was instrumental in the development of the RISE was recruited and aske d to watch two videotaped (approximately 11%) observations and rate the pre-serv ice teachers. The inter-rater re liability between the external auditor and the researcher was 86%. Inter-rater reliability was calculate d by dividing the number of hits between the external auditor and the re searcher by the total number of items that were rated. A hit was defined as a .5 or less difference between the external auditor and the researcher. For example, if the external auditor rated an item on the RISE as 3.5 and the researcher rated the same item as 3.0, this was considered a hit. Pre-service teacher interviews. For each pre-service teacher, the researcher conducted three interviews (one before any classroom observations, one conducted in conjunction with classroom observations, and one at the end of the data collection phase). The interviews


74 consisted of semi-structured questions (Appendi x C). The interview protocol were developed based on guiding principles from the activity th eory framework, literat ure review, and pilot study. Each interview lasted be tween 30 and 90 minutes and was tape recorded and later transcribed. The interviews were important data sources under the activity theory framework because they allowed the researcher to unders tand each pre-service teachers individual characteristics as well as their social contexts of learning. It was through interviews that the researcher gained critical insights into potential interactions between th e pre-service teachers and their preparation program. The purpose of the first interview was to elicit the pre-service teachers perceptions concerning their knowledge, coursework, beliefs, a nd prior experiences for teaching reading. In the second interview, particip ants reflected on the sources of knowledge and program experiences they drew from as they enacted thei r practice in reading inst ruction. This interview followed the first classroom observation. During the second interview, the pre-service teachers viewed and reflected on video clips of their t eaching. Specifically, the researcher asked the preservice teachers to describe where they learned about various classroom practices and the purpose for using those practices. The final interv iew focused on the participants experiences in the various activity systems and how these experi ences influenced their knowledge of reading instruction. Additionally, the par ticipants again reflected on video clips from the second and third classroom observations. Teacher educator interviews. The researcher interviewed the participants reading methods instructors one time during the study. In terviewing the course in structors followed the tenets of activity theory in which multiple people make up activity systems and mediate the context for learning. Similar to the pre-service teache rs, the instructors were asked questions


75 about their courses including the content and learning experiences. These interviews not only served to triangulate the data, but they also assisted the researcher in understanding the types of tools pre-service teachers had expos ure to during their coursework. These interviews were semi-structured (Appendix C) and lasted approximately 60 minutes. Like the pre-service teacher interviews, the teacher educator interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Similar to the pre-service teacher interviews, the interview protocol was derived from the conceptual framework. In addition, in terview questions revolve d around aspects of the reading course syllabus. Cooperating teacher interviews. One critical activity system for the pre-service teachers in this study was their practicum placement. It was their practicum placement that allowed them to translate their knowledge in an authentic teaching situ ation. A large influence in the practicum placement is the cooperating teacher, thus it was vital that each c ooperating teacher was interviewed at least one time. The goal of interviewing the coope rating teachers was to understand their beliefs and knowledge about reading instruction, their prior teaching experiences, and their perceptions of the pre-service teachers tool appropriation. The cooperating teacher interviews were semi-structured (Appendix C) and lasted approximately 60 minutes. The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. The interview protocol was derived from the conceptual framework as well as from the researchers observation field notes. The coopera ting teacher interviews occurr ed after the first or second classroom observation but before the third observation. The topics include d in this interview included the cooperating teachers background, cl ass information, reading philosophies, and goals for the pre-service teachers.


76 Field supervisor interviews. Field supervisors represent an important link between the university setting and the practicum placement, thus they are an integral part of both of these activity systems. It was important, therefore, to include their perspectives in this study. The goal of these interviews was to understand the field supervisors perspectiv es on reading and their perceptions of the pre-service t eachers reading knowledge and enactment of reading instruction. Each field supervisor was interviewed one tim e. These interviews were semi-structured (Appendix C) and lasted approximately 60 minutes The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. The interview protocol was de rived from the conceptual framework. The cooperating teacher interviews occurred after the first or second classroom observation but before the third observation. Prior experiences and beliefs survey. At the beginning of the study, each pre-service teacher completed a four question open-ended surv ey assessing their prior experiences with K-12 schooling, reading instruction, and st udents with disabilities. The survey is included in Appendix A. This survey also addressed their beliefs a bout proper reading instru ction for students with disabilities. This survey was not only a data source, but as discussed previously, it was also used in the sample selection procedure. Concept map. At the beginning and end of the data collection period, each pre-service teacher completed a concept map about readi ng instruction (Appendix A). The concept map served as an informal assessment of their prio r knowledge for reading in struction and was used as part of the sample selection procedure. This map also documented the factors the pre-service teachers believed were essential to becoming a successful reader. In th e middle of the concept map was reading instruction and the pre-service teachers were asked to incorporate as many concepts about effective reading in struction as they were able.


77 Artifacts. The researcher collected course syllab i for the participants reading methods courses to serve as data triangu lation mechanism and as a discu ssion piece during the interviews. Pre-service teachers and teacher educators looked at the syllab i and reflected on the learning experiences and objectives of the course. The researcher also examined the participants program plan including their sequence of courses and field experiences. As part of the Unified Elementary PROTEACH program, the plan was uniform for all participants. The program plan helped document the various experiences that pre-service teachers might have dr awn from as they enacted their reading instruction during their practicum placement. The program plan also served as a data source in the description of the PROTEACH program. For this study, it was importa nt to provide a rich description of the participants program, as the program was the overarching context in which their learning took place. Data Analysis The data were analyzed using constructiv ist grounded theory m ethods (Charmaz, 2000; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Grounded theory is a met hod to systematically analyze qualitative data by utilizing explicit and analyt ic procedures (Charmaz, 2000; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Unlike objectivist or positivist paradigms, in constructiv ism, reality is subjective, the product of the observers experiences, biases, and interests (Charmaz, 2006). Constr uctivist grounded theory is based upon the participants experiences that are grounded in the raw data. By grounding the analyses in the data, the researcher was able to develop a theory that de scribed the interactions between special education pre-se rvice teachers and their prepar ation, but more importantly, it facilitated the development of a theory that explai ned the role of the interactions in the enactment of practice. Grounded theory met hods are especially useful wh en studying the microcosm of interactions in particular sett ings and when new theoretical explanations of a phenomenon are


78 needed (Grbich, 2007). The lack of existing theory to explain the interactions involved in special education pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual an d practical tools makes grounded theory an ideal method for this study. The purpose of grounded theory is to either ge nerate a theory from empirical data or elaborate on an existing theo ry (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). When grounded theory methods are used to generate a theory, the emerging theory is developed after the raw data are decontextualized, rea ssembled, and reorganized. One method of decontextualization is constant comparative analysis or also known as microanalysis (Charmaz, 2000; Corbin & Holt, 2005; Glaser, 1978). This type of analysis helps th e researcher compare people, incidents, and categories (Charmaz, 2000; Glaser, 1978) to tease apart subtle relationships. When grounded theory methods ar e used to elaborate on an existing theory, researchers modify existing theory as new data are collected (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). In this investigation, grounded theory met hods were used to both generate and elaborate on theory. The researcher collected empirical data and generate d a theory explaining th e influences on special education pre-service teachers appr opriation of conceptual and practical tools, but the researcher used activity theory as a guiding framework and modified it to reflect the unique complexities of a special education context. The grounded theory process consists of a three-stage process: open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. A comprehensive list of codes is provided in Appendix D. In the first stage, open coding, codes or labels are developed for the data line by line. These codes represent concepts, which are abstract representations of events, objects, and in teractions (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Differentiating instruction, tension between ideal and reality and open to feedback are some open code examples from this study. As concepts accumulate, they are


79 grouped into more abstract categories. To further define a cat egory, its properties and dimensions are developed. Properties are the characteristic s of a category and dimensions represent a propertys location on a continuum (Strauss & Co rbin, 1998). Theory formulation begins as properties align along various dimensions. In this study, the research er began the grounded theory process by open coding the interview transc ripts and observation field notes line by line. Whenever possible, the researcher incorporated in vivo codes which are the participants exact words. The researcher completed memoing for sec ondary data sources such as artifacts, and used these memos as support for the derived codes an d categories. During the various coding stages, the researcher recorded reflec tions and questions as memos in a study reflection log (Appendix E). Finally, the researcher secured the help of an external auditor who open coded a random selection of four interview transcripts (or 13%) to verify the open codes and emerging axial codes. In general, the external auditors codes matched those of the researchers. Although there were minor variations in the codes, these di fferences did not seem to change the overall emerging themes or outcomes. For example, the researcher coded one data chunk as congruence between university coursework while the external auditor coded the same chunk overlap in university courses In instances where data chunks were coded differently, the researcher and external auditor met to discuss the differen ces and bring to light any hidden biases. In the second stage, axial coding, the data are reassembled by making connections between categories and subcategories (Str auss & Corbin, 1998). In essence, a category that emerged in the open coding stage is linked to all its subcategories (Grbich, 2007). To reassemble the data, the analyst searches for answers to questions such as why, how, where and when (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Answering these types of questions facilitates the development of relationships. For instance, asking when and why pre-service teachers are open to feedback helped bring forth


80 relationships between pre-service teachers, their field supervisors, and their cooperating teachers. Also helpful is the use of a paradigm which is an organizational scheme consisting of conditions, actions, and consequences (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Conditions are the circumstances under which an experience occurs. Actions are individuals responses to issues that arise under those conditions, and consequences are the outcomes of individuals actions (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Further constant comparisons should be made to verify, elaborate, a nd validate the emerging hypotheses that may result from the use of a para digm. Such constant comparison can strengthen the explanatory power of the emerging theory. The outcome of the final stage, selective codi ng, is formal theory development. Selecting a central category that is consistent across the data to represent the predominant research theme refines the theory. In this study, the cen tral category or core concept was opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice A tool to help elucidate the relationships between the core category and the other categories is a cognitive diagram (Corbi n & Holt, 2005). To increase the credibility of the grand theory, analysts look for negative cases, or out liers, and attempt to explain these negative cases as va riations of the formal theory. Verification In qualita tive research, establishing credibility and trustworthiness enhances validity. The researcher established credibility and trustw orthiness through triangulation, member checking, rich descriptions, peer debrie fing, reflective journaling, and the use of external auditors. The researcher triangulated the data by collecting mu ltiple pieces of evidence (interview, observation, and artifact data). Furthermore, the data were triangulated from the interview data from the various study participants (pre-service teachers, cooperating teachers, field supervisors, and teacher educators). Throughout the interview pr ocess the researcher engaged in member checking presenting the initial find ings and impressions to the part icipants and asking for their


81 feedback on the emerging themes about their appr opriation of conceptual and practical tools and the influence of various experien ces on their enactment of readi ng instruction. Through in-depth examination of the data, rich descriptions of th e participants, contexts, and interactions were developed. The researcher also employed peer-debriefing measures by conferring regularly with her committee chair. Finally, the researcher secure d a series of external auditors who were not affiliated with the study. These external auditors verified the researchers field notes, open codes and axial codes, and RISE scores. Study Limitations Although a variety of techniques were employed to promote credibility and trustworthiness, there are still some limitations to this study. The small sample size limits the generalizability of these findings, thus it would be inappropriate to assume these findings apply to all special education pre-se rvice teachers and all preparation programs. Also, in qualitative research, it is often difficult for researchers to separate themselves from their personal experiences and biases. By maintaining a reflec tive journal throughout th e study and engaging in peer-debriefing the researcher aimed to br ing any personal biases to the forefront. Researcher Subjectivity When e mploying qualitative methods, it is importa nt to acknowledge that the researcher is an integral part of the data collection and anal ysis (Patton, 2002). A rese archers subjectivities are inseparable from the data, and thus must be acknowledged. In fact, the researcher has an obligation to examine the intersection of the study and the self. My formal training as an educator began when I was admitted to an accelerated Masters program in elementary education. After securing my first teaching posit ion as a third grade general educator in an inclus ive classroom, I realized that despite completing a graduate program, I was ill-prepared to teach children ho w to read. The Masters program included only


82 two reading methods courses, and neither was designed to address th e specific literacy needs of struggling readers. I found teaching children to read, especially struggling readers and students with disabilities, was the hardest task I had ev er faced. Some of thes e students had already rejected school because of their constant strugg les with learning to rea d, and as their teacher I felt helpless as to how best to teach them. As time past, I got better at teaching reading, but I still did not know how to help every student. I knew that there was so much more that I needed to learn about teaching, and after having the opportunity to be a mentor teacher, I became interested in he lping other teachers. I know that many of my students did not get the in struction that they ne eded because I was not knowledgeable enough as a teacher. I feel in many wa ys that I did my first class of students an injustice. These feelings and beliefs have greatl y shaped how I have approached my research in my doctoral program. My focus is on reading beca use I feel that this is the area in which young children need the most support. I also focus on pr e-service teachers. I want prospective teachers to enter their classrooms more prepared than was my experience. I do not want them to look back on their teaching careers and have regrets that they did no t serve their students well. I believe that by better preparing teachers, studen ts will be the ones who reap the benefits. My experiences as a student and a teacher ha ve influenced how I developed this study on pre-service teacher knowledge for reading instruction. I want my research to help inform teacher preparation programs so that teachers and st udents experience success. From my prior experiences as a researcher, te acher educator, and former clas sroom teacher, I am approaching this investigation with several beliefs about teacher education a nd reading instruction. I believe that teacher education can make a differen ce in beginning teacher quality, if the teacher education program is designed to offer prospec tive teachers extensive opportunities to acquire


83 pedagogical content knowledge and apply it in authentic teaching situations. Teachers beliefs, knowledge, and experiences act as filters for thei r practice, thus teacher educators should pay particular attention to the incoming beliefs a nd prior experiences of pre-service teachers. Teachers who draw from extensive knowledge ab out students and effective teaching practices are better equipped to increase student achievement. Reading in struction for students with disabilities is best when it occu rs in small, flexible groups, is systematic and explicit, and addresses the needs of individual students. Presentation of Findings Included in this dissertation are well-doc umented, comprehensive descriptions of the influences on special education pre-service teachers acquisition of reading instruction knowledge and explanations for how these infl uences interplay to promote or hinder the enactment of practice. The findings are presente d in Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 describes each pre-service teachers appropriation of tools and the specific ac tivity systems under which this appropriation occurred. To illuminate the ways in which the pre-service t eachers learning occurs and how this learning is translat ed into classroom practice, inte rview excerpts and examples of classroom practice are included in chapter 4. Chapter 5 provides a grounded theory for how various influences interact as special education pre-service teac hers appropriate conceptual and practical tools for reading instruction for students with mild disabilities.


84 Table 3-1. Pre-service teacher information PT Age CT School FS Reading course Instructor Anita 22 Mrs. Adams Washington Elem. Mrs. Grant Emergent Lit. Instructor A Intermediate Rdg Instructor B UFLI training Instructor C Colleen 22 Mrs. Carter Clinton Elem. Mrs. Grant Emergent Lit. Instructor D Intermediate Rdg Instructor B UFLI training Instructor C Kristy 27 Mrs. Kirk Kennedy Elem. Mrs. Smith Emergent Lit. Instructor D Intermediate Rdg Instructor E UFLI training Instructor C Melanie 22 Mrs. Monroe Clinton Elem. Mrs. Grant Emergent Lit. Instructor D Intermediate Rdg --* UFLI training Instructor C Nancy 25 Mrs. Nell Roosevelt Elem. Mrs. Baker Intermediate Rdg Instructor E Lang. & Intervention Instructor F Tricia 22 Mrs. Taylor Lincoln Elem. Mr s. Grant Emergent Lit. Instructor A Intermediate Rdg. Instructor E UFLI training Instructor C This course instructor was unava ilable to participate in the study. Note. PT: Pre-service Teacher, CT: Coope rating Teacher, FS: Field Supervisor


85Table 3-2. Practicum placements Preservice teacher Placement School School size Free/reduced lunch rate Minority rate Cooperating teacher Years expTeaching duties Anita 3rd grade inclusive Washington Elem. 670 36.60%43.40% Mrs. Adams 12 3rd grade general educator Colleen K-1 inclusive/ pull out Clinton Elem. 800 33.30%45.70% Mrs. Carter 14 K-1 ESE teacher Melanie 2nd grade inclusive pull out Clinton Elem. 800 33.30%45.70% Mrs. Monroe 10 2nd grade general educator Kristy Multi-grade K-2 inclusiveKennedy Elem. 460 45.80%46.10% Mrs. Kirk 35 K-2 general educator Nancy 3rd grade inclusive Roosevelt Elem. 468 87.80%98.40% Mrs. Nell 7 3rd grade general educator Tricia K-3 resource Lincoln Elem. 639 44.80%42.80% Mrs. Taylor 32 K-2 ESE teacher


86 Table 3-3. Data collection timeline Week in school year Data collection August (Weeks 3 and 4) Study presentation and participant recruitment Informed consents provided Prior Experiences Survey administered Phelps & Schilling (2004) survey collected Pre-concept maps collected September (weeks 2 and 3) Pre-serv ice teacher interviews #1 conducted September (week 4) & October (weeks 1-2) Observations #1 conducted October (weeks 2-4) Pre-servi ce teacher interviews #2 conducted October (weeks 1-5) Reading course instructor interviews conducted Course syllabi collected October (week 2) Field Supe rvisor interviews conducted October (week 2) PROTEACH program plan collected October (weeks 1-5) and November (week 2) Cooperating Teacher interviews conducted October (weeks 3-5) and November (weeks 2-3) Observations #2 conducted October (week 4) and November (weeks 2-5) Observations #3 conducted November (week 5) and December (weeks 2-3) Pre-service teacher interviews #3 conducted Post-concept maps collected Member checking


87 CHAPTER 4 PRE-SERVICE TEACHER ACTIVITY SYSTEMS The purpose of this chapter is to describe the activity systems that mediated six special education pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual an d practical tools for teaching reading, as well as explain how these activity systems operated to influence the pre-service teachers beliefs and practices. Evidence of influen ces of the individual and influences of social contexts on pre-service teacher learning was coll ected through interview and artifact data and evidence of appropriation of tools was collected through videotapes of observations, observation field notes, and scores on the R eading Instruction in Special E ducation (RISE). During a series of three interviews, the participants reflected on their prior e xperiences and beliefs concerning reading instruction for students w ith disabilities and st ruggling readers. Additionally, participants answered questions about the influences they drew on as they appropriated tools for reading instruction. Pre and post concept maps served as additional evidence of the participants knowledge about reading instruct ion. The video taped observations and observation field notes documented the pre-service teachers instructi onal practices. Interview data coupled with observation data provided insights into the levels to which the pre-service teachers appropriated conceptual and practical tool s about reading instruction. Table 4-1 depicts the selec tive and axial codes for this grounded theory study. The selective codes represent shared influences, while the axial code s represent the variations of these influences across participants, thus the selective codes were the same across the six participants, but the axial codes varied. The firs t column of Table 4-1 illustrates the selective codes, followed by columns documenting the axial c odes specific to each pre-service teacher. In parentheses, each axial code is classified under one of three activity systems (individual, university, or practicum). As indicated by the columns in Table 4-1, participants were influenced


88 either positively or negatively by the various activity systems. For example, for one participant, Colleen, characteristics of her practicum and her UFLI training were the foremost influences on her appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. For An ita, her prior e xperiences and coursework were the predominant influences on her beliefs and tool appropriation. Nancy was an example of how some influences work to have a negative effect. Nancys personal attributes and challenging practicum experience stood as barriers to her successful enactment of reading tools in the classroom. Throughout this chapter, an extensive discussion of the infl uences on all six of the preservice teachers appropriation of tools as indicated by Table 4-1 will be presented. Rich, thick descriptions of (a) individual in fluences, such as prior experien ces and personal attributes, (b) influences of social contexts, including practic um placements and university influences, and (c) evidence of appropriation of tools for each preservice teacher are presented in the following sections, with excerpts from interview and obser vation field note data. All participants are identified using pseudonyms. Anita Anita entered her practicum placement with extensive and varied prior schooling experiences as well as a developed sense of a personal teaching style. She also relied on her university coursework to guide her beliefs and teaching practices. As a result, Anitas beliefs about how tools should be appropriated were influenced by he r individual experiences, ideas, and coursework. In the end, however, Anitas lack of opportunities to situate her knowledge of special education and beginning read ing instruction in her practicum left her feeling ill-prepared to teach struggling readers and studen ts with disabilities how to read.


89 Influence of the Individual Prior experiences. Anitas m other was a teacher and consequently, while growing up, Anita spent a great deal of time in her mothe rs classroom. Anitas mother was not a special educator, but she did have special education stud ents included in her classroom; thus, Anita had years of experience observing stud ents with disabilities being included in general education classrooms. These prior experiences played a la rge role in Anitas beliefs about how students with disabilities should be included in general education classrooms, as well as her knowledge of appropriate instruction for student s with disabilities. As she reflected on her mothers influence, Anita said, its just so interesting to see how her practices and working with those children and being able to reach some of them at some poi nt in time always had an effect on me (9.14.07). Her mothers effect translated into an intrinsi c motivation to help students with disabilities succeed. Although Anita was not held accountable for the progress of students with disabilities in her practicum, she consistently focused on mee ting their instructional n eeds, as well as those of struggling readers. Anitas concern for students with disabilities was exemplified when she expressed discouragement because a special edu cation student named Keith, is such a hard worker, he tries so hard, but there are no real accommodations in place for him. Evidence of the influence of Anitas prior experiences in her mothers classroom was found on her pre-concept map, as she included id eas about differentiated instruction, ability grouping, and the need for students to receive direct instruction a nd small group practice. Personal attributes and concerns. Anita described herself as very organized and very systematic. These attributes served her well in some regards because her cooperating teacher, Mrs. Adams, praised her wonderful lesson plan s that clearly indicate d a large amount of planning. Being systematic and organized, however also got in Anitas way. In one instance, Anita planned to ask students comprehension questions in a guide d reading group. After


90 spending an extensive period of time asking que stions, the students became less engaged resulting in off task behavior. Instead of changing the activity when students became disengaged, Anita continued with the pre-planned activity of asking comprehensi on questions until the students misbehavior escalated and the lesson wa s disrupted completely. Anitas rigid adherence to her pre-existing lesson structure made it difficult for her to adapt to changes as they occurred in the classroom. Influence of Social Contexts Practicu m placement. Anitas practicum placement was in a third grade inclusive classroom and her cooperating teacher, Mrs. Adams, was teaching third grade for the first time. Although there were students with disabilities in the classroom, Anita felt that she was not learning how to address their reading needs prop erly. There are four possible explanations for Anitas concerns about her ability to teach struggling readers based on her practicum experience, each of which is detailed below. First, Anita never observed a special educator providing special educat ion services to the students with disabilities, nor did she observe many classroom accommodations being made for those students as indicated above in her comm ents about Keith. In describing the classroom instruction Anita observed, the ac tual reading instruction was not as explicit as I feel it should have been (12.11.07). After watching many students with disabilities stru ggle from a lack of explicit instruction, Anitas beliefs about the need for systematic, explic it instruction were only strengthened. Second, for reading, the third grade teachers divided students into one of two groups, above grade level and at or be low grade level. Anita and Mrs. Adams were responsible for teaching reading to the students who were at or below grade level. Although responsible for students who were reading below a 3rd grade level, Anita indicated that reading instruction in the


91 classroom focused on grammar, vocabulary, an d comprehension, with little attention to phonemic awareness, phonics, or fluency. Furtherm ore, Anita indicated that instruction she observed was very teacher-oriented, focused on passing the FCAT, [and filled with] silent seatwork (10.16.07). The researchers classroo m observations confirme d Anitas comments. During the researchers three classroom observations students spent the majority of their reading time on comprehension and vocabul ary activities, often completi ng worksheets independently at their desks. Moreover, the vocabulary and compre hension instruction was not targeted towards struggling readers. Observation data indicat ed small group instruction in vocabulary and comprehension was uniform across students regardle ss of their individual needs. Thus, Anita did not have much opportunity to pract ice delivering intense, targeted instruction gauged at meeting students individual needs in reading. Anita expressed a lack of opportun ity to apply what she had learned about struggling reader s and students with disabilities thus leading to a lack of confidence to help such students. Third, Anita was not afforded much freedom in her planning for in struction. When Anita tried to bring in ideas from her Emergent Litera cy course about using re ad-a-louds in conjunction with pre-reading strategies, she was met with resistance from the students who were not accustomed to such instruction. Anita said, the students think I am a bit crazy when I tell them to go through and look at the pictures (10.16.07). The result was that Anita decided not to interfere with Mrs. Adams pre-established t eaching objectives, documented by her comments, I dont have much lee-way with planning what I wa nt to do with a lesson. I guess I dont want to interfere with [Mrs. Adams] teaching, so I just go along with the things she needs me to do. Finally, Mrs. Adams stated, I have essentia lly been a fourth grade teacher and I even started this year as a fourth grade teacher, and then we didnt have enough classes for fourth


92 grade, so I got booted down to third (10.26.07). Mrs. Adams went on to talk about how she was more comfortable teaching writing than teaching reading, thus Anita did not have a cooperating teacher who was herself comforta ble with teaching children how to read, especially those students for whom learning to read is challenging. In essence, Mrs. Adams interview statements confirmed Anitas lack of opportunity to a pply her knowledge about teaching reading to struggling students. University influence. Anita left her practicum feeling unprepared to teach reading to students with disabilities despite having comple ted university coursework that she believed helped her understand how to provide effective reading instruction. For example, she felt the Emergent Literacy course provided especia lly meaningful experiences in her reading coursework. She learned about the five component s of reading and how to assess students using DIBELS. Anita appreciated how learning about the five areas of reading and learning about reading assessments gave her a deeper understanding for the read ing process and how it plays out in the classroom (9.14.07). However, she thought that the university provided an ideal model of teaching that was sometimes incongruent with classroom practice. Anita talked about it in terms of a gap in what weve learned shoul d be good [instruction] a nd what weve seen [in classrooms] (9.14.07). This gap was problematic for Anita because she rarely saw the practices from her coursework applied in classroom settings; thus, it made understanding and adopting these practices more difficult. Although Anita perceived a gap between the university and classroom, she thought her field supervisor, Mrs. Grant, he lped bridge the gap. Anita appreciated Mrs. Grants role in helping her reflect on her teaching. Anita said, t he feedback is usually very helpful because [field supervisors] are objectiv e (10.16.07). Anita said in some instances, she changed how she


93 taught because of the feedback provided by Mrs. Grant. For example, one suggestion Mrs. Grant offered was to incorporate more wait time when questioning students. One time, however, Anita, rejected Mrs. Grants feedback. Anita described I am very systematic and Mrs. Grant [suggested] switching things up, but it makes me nervous when I have to switch things up. I guess it is just a teaching style, but I am very systematic in that we are going to do this first and then this, so [Mrs. Grants advice] is something that I found hard to take in. I am not going to do that. I kind of discarded that I guess (10.16.07). Anita was not willing to change her personal teaching style because of the discomfort it created. Appropriation of Tools The influence of her mothers teaching pract ices and her faith in university coursework caused Anita to be quite critical of the practices she observed in her prac ticum both in terms of reading instruction and in terms of the instruction provided to st udents with disabilities. From Anitas standpoint, the role of he r individual prior experiences and the role of coursework were the chief mediators of her a ppropriation of tools. With little guidance from her cooperating teacher regarding reading instruction or instruction for students with disabilities, data from the RISE indicated that Anita improved in her overa ll classroom practice, but only by a half of a point, going from a score of 2 to a 2.5 over the course of the semester. Anitas biggest obstacle to instruction wa s her pacing and classroom management, a concern confirmed by her initial sc ore in this area on the RISE (a score of 1.5) and by comments made by Anita, herself, and by Mrs. Adams. Afte r watching a videotape of her instruction, Anita reflected on what she would like to improve in her teaching stating, Time management. If someone is answering a question, I get too drawn in to that question and I get off from what we are actually doing (10.16.07). Anita thought many of her classroom management problems stemmed from her limited time in practicum. Anita explained


94 I would be trying to get back into teaching, so it would be pay atten tion to me, trying to get students to zone into me when I was there because I wa snt there for very long each day. We are there for 4 hour s 3 days a week (12.11.07). Anitas reflections were confir med by Mrs. Adams who stated My biggest goal for her, is time management She has wonderful, wonderful plans but she gets too deep into one part of the lesson and it will take far longer than she ever intended for it to take. If too much time is spent on it then you can start loosi ng the kids attention (10.26.07). Going further, Mrs. Adams talked about th e difficulties interns have with classroom management stating I think the classroom management really come s from both a combination of the fact that the intern is not used to having to deal w ith classroom management issues, and also the fact that its not their class. I think sometimes [interns] are kind of timid about getting onto a child for misbehavior because its not thei r class and they dont want to do something wrong (10.26.07). Anitas lowest scores on the RISE were on items focusing on providing continuous and intensive instruction and maintaining student in terest and engagement. For example, in one guided reading lesson, Anita and the students were reading about the gold rush and got into an involved discussion about gold that lasted several minutes, after which Anita had difficulty regaining the students attention. Anitas difficulties could, in part be explained by her rigidity and her difficulty managing unexpected events du ring instruction. This is an example of how individual attributes mediate tool use. During classroom observations, Anita did not teach phonemic awareness, word study, or fluency, mostly because she did not have the oppor tunity, thus she did not receive any scores on the RISE for these areas. In comprehension instruction she went from a 2 to a 3 because of her multiple opportunities to apply her comprehensio n knowledge. For two of the three observations, Anita completed guided reading lessons with a small group of students, focusing predominantly on comprehension. In terms of tool appropria tion, there is evidence Anita appropriated


95 conceptual underpinnings of guided reading a nd the use of questioning. She was observed posing comprehension questions, both lower order and hi gher order having students take turns reading, and using vocabulary and comprehension activities with the text. When talking about guided reading, Anita talked about the importance of sm all groups and using guided reading to work on skills for which students might need additional practice. Thus Anita, knew the meaning of the term guided reading, she knew the practices that support it, as well as the rationale for its use. For the third observation, Anita did a whole group comprehension lesson in which she worked with the students on seque ncing. For part of this lesson, An ita had the students work in cooperative groups and she attributed knowledge of this practice to her TESOL class. The culminating activity was for the students to put a series of events in proper sequence. Anita commented that though she had learned about assessm ent from her three courses in it, it was not until she went to grade the students sequencing a ssignment that she realized she needed to put a lot more thought into the gr ade, like making a rubric for it and being more objective (12.11.07). From her coursework, Anita had appropriated some ideas about assessment but applying her knowledge to the classroom helped her think more deeply about assessment and how it should be done. Applying her reading knowledge during practicum helped Anita understand assessment from a practical and conceptu al standpoint, thus helping her reach higher levels of appropriation. Interplay of Influences Anita learned beginning reading practices in he r Em ergent Literacy course, but without the opportunity to enact this knowledge by teaching struggling readers, Anita was uncertain of her ability. In the final interview, Anita mused about her ability to teach struggling readers and said, I think I would be able to but I havent seen myse lf be able to [teach struggling readers] yet, so I cant say yes I know I can do that (12.11.07). Similarly, Anita finished the semester feeling only


96 somewhat confident in her ability to teach student s with disabilities. In the absence of extensive opportunities to work with students with disabi lities, Anita relied on her knowledge from her coursework and her observations of her mothers inclusive classroom, stating, I may not have had that experience but with what I know, I think I can adapt and te ach those kids, so that is my only consolation (12.11.07). Colleen Colleen en tered the PROTEACH program with a well-defined goal of being a special educator, a goal that resulted from her prior e xperiences with a sibli ng with a disability. Although Colleen talked about various concepts sh e learned from her unive rsity coursework, this knowledge was not solidified and clear until Colleen was able to see it or use it in a classroom setting. For Colleen, the most important unive rsity experience was the UFLI training she received. At the end of the semester, Colleens knowledge about beginn ing reading instruction and reading instruction for strugg ling readers had greatly increased due to her placement with a Kindergarten/first grade special educator and the opportunity to apply her UFLI training. Influence of the Individual Prior experiences. Colleen had a brother who was 11 years younger and who was diagnosed w ith Autism at an early age. Watc hing him grow up was a large influence on Colleens desire to be a teacher and her belief s about teacher quality and special education. She explained Hes gone through so many years of ups and dow ns and it is really so dependent on the teacher because there were some years that were so wasted because of low expectations or just letting him get away with whatever he wanted (9.18.07). Her observations of her brothe rs experiences fueled her desire to become a special educator.


97 The schools Colleen attended ut ilized self-contained models thus Colleen had little interaction with students with disabilities duri ng her own K-12 education. Colleen recalled, I dont think I remember who the ESE teachers were or even their names or saw the kids. Some kids were special ed the whole way through a nd you just didnt see them that much (9.18.07). Coming into the PROTEACH program, however, Colleen had well-established beliefs about the need for individualized instruction for students with disabilities and the diverse nature of classrooms, due to her experiences with her brother, as indicated in the first interview when she talked about how different kids in your class are going to be and how individualized everything needs to be [to meet their needs] (9.18.07). Colleen had little memory of learning to read stating, I dont even remember learning to read, I dont remember anything about it, I don t even remember learning letters (12.5.07). Coming into the PROTEACH program, Colleen t hought learning to read was just a natural process that everyone learns, it was so mething that just happened (12.5.07). Personal attributes and concerns. Colleens personal attributes and concerns may have influenced her learning. Her interview data indica ted Colleen took initiati ve to learn more. The curriculum Colleens practicum teacher adopted u tilized short sight word books. After using the books for a few lessons, Colleen realized sh e did not know the books purpose. Instead of continuing to feel confused and wait for her coop erating teacher to notice, Colleen took initiative by asking how she was supposed to use the books. Additionally, the evidence suggest ed that one of Colleens concerns was to be liked by her students. When describing a memorable day, Colleen talked about the day her tutoring student ran up to her and gave her a hug. She was happy that he likes me (12.5.07). Moreover, Colleen said, you build such a relations hip with students, they are like your little brothers (12.5.07).


98 Observation data from her first lesson confirmed Co lleens desire to be li ked by students. Several times throughout the lesson, instead of establishi ng herself as an aut hority figure and setting clear expectations, Colleen took an informal tone with students, giggling at their misbehavior rather than correcting it. Influence of Social Contexts Practicu m placement. Colleens practicum placement was with Mrs. Carter, a special educator with 14 years of experience, who had supervised many interns. Mrs. Carter taught Kindergarteners and first graders using a combination of service deliver y models including pushin, pull-out, and co-teaching. All of the students Colleen and Mrs. Carter worked with were struggling with reading or math. According to Mrs. Cater the students sh e worked with are the ones that need that extra little oomph (10.23.07). Mr s. Carters direct involvement in providing instruction for students had a positive impact on Colleen. Before her practicum, Colleen only entertained the idea of being a self-contained te acher, because in a prior field experience she observed a special education resource teacher who did not have much responsibility or interaction with students. Seei ng Mrs. Carters success as a special educator who provided students with disabilities instruction in a vari ety of ways, however, helped Colleen see that models besides self-contained coul d be good for students. Colleen said I really wasnt about a push in or pull out model. Thats not what I wanted to doBut in Mrs. Carters case, she actually runs her ow n center and has the same kids everyday, so it is more consistent than I thought it would be. And the kids are so excited about it (9.18.07). Colleens practicum with its variety of se rvice delivery models had both benefits and drawbacks. On the positive side, Colleen had multiple sources of knowledge including Mrs. Carter, general educators, and pa raprofessionals. The large number of adults with whom Colleen worked helped her learn a variety of accommodati ons. For example, when asked about her use of


99 highlighters to help a student with Autism, Co lleen credited the parapr ofessional with showing her the strategy. Colleens use of trackers to help students keep their place on a page came from the general educators supplies. On the negative side, however, Colleen l acked participation in lesson planning and instructional decision-making. According to Colleen: There was a classroom teacher and an intern and an assistant and us and so it was like five teachers in one room which was great for grouping but not for instructional decisions. I did not have any voice in reading. In reading I feel like the intern was a little controlling herself. I did not come across any personal conflict but I did not try to take control of anything, so I guess the planning, I did not have much exposure to (12.5.07). These restrictions were ec hoed by Mrs. Carter who said Since we do so many different things, in read ing, its pretty much decided for Colleen and we tell her what is going on. Because I co-tea ch, we [the teachers] actually do the planning together and then we tell Colleen whats bei ng done so she just ca rries that out (10.23.07). Although Colleen was not involved in lesson pl anning, Mrs. Carter did have a plan for involving Colleen in successful teaching opportunities. Mrs. Carter attempted to help Colleen ease into the classroom gently, so that she w ould not drown in classroom management issues initially. According to Mrs. Carter: Behavior management is always the hardes t as beginning teachers Its really being comfortable enough with your cu rriculum that you can focus on the behavior management, and it is the behavior management that shoul d come first. But most people focus on the curriculum and they forget the behavi or management part of it (10.23.07). As a result, she had a clear plan for Colleens involvement in the classroom. Mrs. Carter had Colleen implement Reading Mastery lessons because [Reading Mastery] is very straight forward so all [pre-service teachers] have to focus on is the behavior management (10.23.07). Mrs. Carter also talked about giving Colleen explicit guidance on working with small groups of students. Mrs. Carter stated [Colleen and I] have talked about managing behaviors of large and small groups, how it is different. It seems like when you do a small group, you tend to back off a little and thats a mistake some people make because t hose kids can get just as hyper as a large group. They can get away from you real fa st. So weve talked about setting clear

PAGE 100

100 expectations and setting those rules and consequences. And th at eliminates that busyness and the wandering that always leads into trouble (10.23.07). Observations of Colleen supported Mrs. Cart ers views and mentoring. Colleens RISE score on classroom management rose from a 1.5 to a 3 by the end of the semester. University influence. Colleen had mixed feelings about the role of her university coursework. She identified a mismatch between what she was learning from the university and what she observed in her various placements. She commented, what we learn is new and it is researched and up and coming and not necessarily in the schools. We were learning one thing and [schools are] not doing that, for example, cooperative grouping (12.5.07). Colleen also indicated that the conflicting messages she received from various university course instructors about the need for direct instru ction did little to help her fo rmulate her ideas about how to approach teaching. She stated, I am kind of torn because I feel li ke in everything we learn there are two things, direct explicit instruction and then theres dont do that, do this, and I am [confused] which is it (12.5.07)? In reflecting on those experiences that were most influential, Colleen did discuss one university requirement, her UFLI training. According to Colleen: UFLI was actually really big and we did not realize how much it helped us. We were [upset] we were tutoring for free, but I realize now that really helped because it is that oneon-one and you see how kids read. It was real ly helpful because I planned, I thought oh they really need to do this and I would take a game and not do the game but do something with the cards of the game. I was thinking more creatively (12.5.07). For Colleen, the UFLI tutoring provided an opportunity for her to plan instruction, something that she felt was lacking in her prac ticum. In fact, Instructor C who trained the preservice teachers in UFLI felt that one of the bene fits of UFLI was that there is a lot of tutor decision-making throughout (10.30.07). The UFLI tuto ring also gave Colleen more insight into the reading process beca use it did show you what goes on in [kids] heads, how they attack

PAGE 101

101 words and I had never seen kids do that, so it de finitely made it more real, especially how they progressed (12.5.07). Appropriation of Tools For Colleen, the combination of her UFLI tutoring knowledge, Reading Mastery, and the basal reading series provided Colleen with stru cture and guidance, thus her overall classroom rating and her scores on phonemic awareness and word study all increased ove r the course of the semester, with her final word study score reaching a 3.5. As discussed earlier, guidance from Colleens knowledgeable cooperating teacher he lped Colleens classroom management rating increase 1.5 points over the course of the semest er. Of primary importance to Colleen was the influence of her practicum placement, because it helped her appropriate tools and knowledge related to beginning reading inst ruction, as well as classroom ma nagement strategies, all of which is described below. From observing Mrs. Carter and a general education teacher, Colleen adopted the use of positive reinforcement using extrinsic rewards such as Skittles and pretzels. For Colleen, the positive reinforcement helps and is a wonderful thing (10.11.07). Observation data confirms her use of positive reinforcement and its powerful effect on her classroom management. In one lesson, Colleen rewarded four students who ha d followed directions by giving them each a Skittle. Upon seeing that some students had recei ved a reward, a fifth student, John, who had crawled under his chair, immediately returned to the table and got back on task. After watching this video clip, Colleen spoke about how she relied on using positive reinforcers with the students because the reinforcers en couraged students to be good. For Colleen, the most important influence in her appropriation of tools about reading instruction was the opport unity to situate them in practice. Without this opportunity, Colleen had difficulty seeing the need for various tools pres ented in her coursework. She described learning

PAGE 102

102 about phonemes and phonemic awareness in her Emerge nt Literacy course and not being able to stand it. When I was learning it I was thinking oh my God, I know how to say a /b/ (9.18.07)! But Colleen went on to describe how being in he r practicum helped her understand the need for knowledge such as phonics and phonemic awarene ss, stating, that stuff took me a while to realize that it was helpful (10.11.07). She desc ribed how during one less on she realized she did not really know the correct way to produce th e sound /b/ even though during her coursework she thought learning the letter sounds was useless. In another lesson, Colleen had students use mirro rs to observe the shape their mouths took when producing various letter sounds. When asked about this tool, Colleen said, I remember we talked about it in Emergent Literacy. I think it was one of those things we learned before we were in the [practicum] classroom so I neve r really thought about it that much (10.11.07). Colleen, however, chose to implement the mirror s after observing the gene ral educator use them with the students. It is unclear whether Colle en eventually would have enacted her knowledge about using mirrors if she had not seen it mode led during her practicum. Instructor D who taught Colleens Emergent Literacy course confirmed Colleens statements when she said, I dont think [pre-service teachers] reali ze the benefit of the course until they walk away from it. They grumble through it (10.8.07). At the end of her practicum, Colleens knowle dge of beginning reading had increased. Her pre-concept map included only six broad terms like predicting and phonics, but her post concept map was much more detailed with 28 ideas, incl uding the five major components of reading, as well as their meanings and ways to teach them. Interplay of Influences Colleens final statem ents confirmed the powerful role her practicum played in her learning. Colleens aspirations to be a special ed ucator coupled with a po sitive special education

PAGE 103

103 practicum experience strengthened he r desire for helping students with disabilities as well as her confidence in delivering reading instruction.W hen asked about her confidence in teaching reading, especially for struggli ng readers, Colleen replied, bef ore this semester I was like I dont want to do it, so when I got this semester, I was a little intimidated but now I definitely feel a lot more confident and I feel like as much as th e coursework prepares you for it, it is definitely seeing it that makes it real. Obvi ously experience is the best te acher (12.5.07). Mrs. Carter had similar thoughts stating, its eas y to learn the stuff at college but you know, I feel for those teachers who dont do their 5th year and their intern ship and stuff like that, I dont know how you could do it, you have to have that internship and you have to have those placements. That is really where you learn to teach I think (10.23.07). Kristy Throughout the study, Kristy encountered severa l challenges as she tried to integrate her personal teaching philosophy with ideas from her coursework and her practicum. She struggled to reconcile her personal ideolo gies, which supported holistic read ing instruction and her course instructors ideologies about th e need for systematic explicit reading inst ruction. She also had difficulties executing reading instruction because of her own misunderstandings and lack of knowledge about reading. For Kristy, the appropriation of tools concerni ng reading instruction was contingent upon her having opportunities to enact tools in practice, as well as extensive time to reflect on her instruction and receive fee dback and extensive support from her cooperating teacher and field supervisor. Influence of the Individual Prior experiences. Kristy, 27 years old, was the oldest of the six participants. Being older than the m ajority of her c ohort, Kristy felt a li ttle separated from the other pre-service teachers. In addition to a difference in age, Kr istys own educational background seemed to set

PAGE 104

104 her apart from her peers. The data indicated that as a student, Kristy was limited by her academic ability. On her prior beliefs and experiences survey, she wrote about acting out in math class because she did not understand and then being seat ed in the back of the classroom. She also wrote about dropping out of high school her se nior year, receiving her diploma through an alternative adult e ducation program. Her academic struggles seemed to follow her into her college studies as well. Of all the pre-service teachers who took the Phelps & Schilling (2004) reading survey at the beginning of the semester, Kristy scored the lowest. Her pe rsonal struggle to unders tand reading and the teaching of reading was documented several ti mes throughout the study. Kristy spoke about her own difficulty understanding when words would ta ke a long vs. short vowel sound. Mrs. Kirk, her cooperating teacher commented, I think she has a lot of growth in that area to go yet with reading and understating how reading works (1 0.4.07). During one observation, Kristy tried to help a student decode ir regular sight words like where and of. After watching her videotaped lesson, and seeing the difficulties the student was having, Kristy talked ab out how her teacher fog probably made him foggy (10.9.07). Mrs. Kirk, who had seen Kr isty instruct students to decode irregular words, said she had to explicitly tell Kristy that irregular words should not be decoded; rather, they have to be memorized. De spite Mrs. Kirks instru ction, Kristy still had trouble understanding the concept of irregular sight words, as indicated by her comments in a subsequent interview when she talk ed about trying to have studen ts hear the sound /ou/ makes in the word could. Personal attributes and concerns. Although Kristy had difficulties understanding aspects of the reading process, she had several person al attributes that supported her throughout the semester. Kristy was reflective, often record ing her thoughts, questions and self-proclaimed

PAGE 105

105 weaknesses in a journal. Throughout the semester, Kristy was willing to admit when her lessons did not go well, asserting, I knew I didnt do a good job (11.29.07). Kristy was aware that her lack of knowledge affected her instruction nega tively. She talked about wanting to convey ideas to students with the lightening speed they nee d. I dont want to be st anding up there thinking and confused (10.9.07). As a result of her strong desire to impr ove, Kristy was open to feedback from her cooperating teacher and field supervisor stating, I love that constructive feedback because I would rather someone tell me what I did wrong ra ther than you did perf ect, all 5s (11.29.07). Mrs. Kirk confirmed, the thing about Kristy is shes really open to you know, you helping her or telling her, you know Kristy, th ats not going to work, or you really didnt do that well (10.4.07). In an effort to improve her practice, Kris ty was not afraid to ask for help, seeking it from multiple sources. In addition to her coopera ting teacher and field supervisor, Kristy also went to the several faculty members at the university when she needed help. Finally, Kristy was a diligent worker and de dicated to her students and to the teaching profession. Most weeks Kristy work ed more than the required number of hours at her practicum placement. Mrs. Kirk said, Kristy, she wants to do the right thing. And she really tries hard and she shows a lot of initia tive about a lot of things. Shes ve ry good with the children when shes working with them (10.4.07). Speaking about a career in teaching, Kristy said I am not there because it is easy and I want to have a great time. There are a million jobs that are easy. I knew I was there for [student s]. I want to intimate ly know my students needs and I want to know their interests a nd I want to be committed to teaching them (11.29.07)! Influence of Social Contexts Practicu m placement. Kristys practicum placement was in a multi-age K-2 inclusive classroom with Mrs. Kirk, a general educator with 35 years of experience. Although being in a

PAGE 106

106 multi-age classroom exposed Kristy to three gr ade levels simultaneously, she struggled with developing and delivering appropria te instruction for students at various grade levels. In one lesson, Kristy was teaching the concept of contra ctions to three of th e younger students. After watching her videotaped lesson, Kr isty realized that the conc ept of contractions was too challenging for the students, especially because sh e presented multiple types of contractions in the same lesson. Reflecting, Kristy said There were just so many different types of contractions and I wasnt sure that I was actually getting to work with the right words. Yeah, that was a lot of different contractions to throw on them and it is hard. I am not dumb, but it is hard for me (11.29.07). Kristys practicum had a large impact on he r beliefs about reading instruction. At the beginning of the semester, Kristy believed that reading instruction should foster students aesthetic love of reading. Included on Kristy s pre-concept map were ideas such as social interaction, holistic, organic, drama and poetry. In essence, Kristy be lieved in a whole language approach to reading instruction. Initially, the reading instruction provided in Kristys practicum ali gned with her incoming beliefs. Mrs. Kirk used a program called the Dail y 5, which was comprised of (a) reading to self, (b) reading to others, (c) being read to, (d) word work, and (e ) practicing writing. According to Mrs. Kirk, I really feel that the children need to be more involved and more ownership in their learning, so what we started this year is called The Daily Five (10.4.07). The premise of instruction being more student-directed matched w ith Kristys initial beliefs. After having spent time in the classroom using this particular reading program, however, Kristy harbored doubts about its effectiveness. She was concerned that pretty much you leave [students] alone and let them read (9.11.07). In fact, according to the Da ily Five program, for 30 minutes each day, students are supposed to read sile ntly. Kristy was most concerned about the struggling readers, as

PAGE 107

107 indicated by her statement, I dont know about the students who are struggling. Are they reading, or are they looking at the book because they are out there on their own (11.29.07)? After having spent a semester using the Daily Five program, Kristys beliefs about reading instruction had changed. Although sh e still loved the idea of a w hole language and literature based approach to reading, she cam e to believe that this approach was not beneficial for the students who struggled with read ing. Therefore, Kristy drew upon the tools she learned in her reading methods courses. At the end of the se mester, when asked about her beliefs about how students best learn to read, she responded They learn best by having concrete and explicit instruction; something really clear, this is what it is and this is what I need you to do. Th ey need that immediate feedback. They need those multiple opportunities to re spond, the clear expectations and clear goals that they meet to have more of a sense of I am learning to read. I am improving (11.29.07). Kristys post-concept map supported her new be liefs in that she included multiple ideas related to explicit instruction, m odeling, benefits of direct instruction, and early intervention In addition to her beliefs about reading, Kr istys practicum placement forced her to examine her beliefs and practices concerning pl anning for instruction. Before watching the videotaped lessons, Kristy admitted, I wasnt pu tting a lot of time into preparing and so it is awakening [seeing] how I am on my feet (11.29. 07). Kristy realized that spending time planning her instruction in advance was crucial to her success because with more time spent planning lessons came more coherent and explicit instruction. As indica ted by Mrs. Kirk, for Kristy, it was especially importa nt that she think about what sh e would need to know ahead of time and how she was going to pres ent concepts to the students. University influence. For Kristy, university coursework was an important influence. In fact, it was a special education PROTEACH instructor and her passion for special education that sparked Kristys interest for sp ecial education. In relation to re ading, two experiences, learning

PAGE 108

108 phonics in her Emergent Literacy course and her UFLI training, were especially meaningful for Kristy. Although learning phonics was difficult a nd painful, Kristy likened it to medicine, you need it (9.11.07). Although Kristy realized the importance of learning phonics during her coursework, once she tried to translate this knowle dge into practice, she encountered difficulties. Kristy described how she knew the sounds letter s make but she felt nervous making the sounds, especially when she had to make them explicit for students. Conversely, Kristy felt more positive when she had an opportunity to apply skills in a structured way, such as when she was implementing UFLI tutoring. Kristy said, UFLI ta ught me so much. I can see immediate results with any student (11.29.07). Kristy may have felt more confident with implementing UFLI tutoring because as indicated by Instructor C, UFL I is a pretty directed experience. There is a lot of tutor decision-making thr oughout but its very guided. You base your decisions on really specific things. You go through the same steps so its pretty comfortable (10.30.07). Kristy had mixed feelings about the role of the field supervisor during her practicum. On the one hand, Kristy felt like the feedback provided by her field supervisor, Mrs. Smith, was helpful. After trying to implement a lesson on graphic organizers, Kristy felt completely frustrated that it ended in what she described as disaster. Mrs. Smith offered feedback, and when Kristy tried the lesson again incorpora ting the feedback, it was more successful. The difference between the two lessons was the amount of content. In Kris tys first lesson, the graphic organizer included too much inform ation and students became overwhelmed. Mrs. Smiths feedback was to reformat the graphic or ganizer so that it covered fewer skills. On a different occasion, however, Kristy indicated I am in the middle of working with [Mrs. Kirk and Mrs. Smith]. Its me in the middle and the field supervisor on one side and the teacher on the other and I am trying to validate what each of them are saying and expecting from me in a way that fits with what I think and believe, and it is difficult (11.29.07).

PAGE 109

109 Kristy described how she felt distressed when she received feedback from Mrs. Smith that contradicted the feedback she was receiving from Mrs. Kirk. Kristy went on to talk about how she got frustrated when Mrs. Kirk would tell her how to structure a lesson and after delivering the lesson, Mrs. Smith would cr itique the very lesson Mrs. Kirk had developed. In these situations, Kristy felt conflicte d over the disparate feedback. Appropriation of Tools For Kristy, the influence of the practicum wa s crucial to her appropr iation of conceptual and practical tools. She talked how the practicum helped her transfer he r learning. It was after teaching a lesson that Kristy was able to gauge how much she really understood a particular concept or tool. Kristys interview statemen ts indicated that she was most successful appropriating tools when she (a) enacted her knowl edge in practice, (b) had time to reflect on the outcome, (c) discussed her performance with some one who could provide he r with feedback, and (d) had an opportunity to practice the less on again. Although drawing on multiple sources of support, Kristys scores on the RISE never incr eased more than a half point. On the overall classroom rating, Kristy increased from 2 to 2.5. It seemed Kristys personal difficulties understanding the reading process c onstantly interfered with her de livery of reading instruction for students, thus an instance of individual infl uences mediating the appropriation of tools. Throughout the semester, there were few instan ces that indicated Kr isty had appropriated tools and knowledge about reading instruction to levels higher than surface features, especially related to phonemic awareness and phonics inst ruction as indicated by the observation and interview data. For example, at the end of the semester, Kristy still did not completely understand irregular words and how they should be taught. During the fi nal observation, Kristy had students try to sound out the word could. In the final interview it was clear Kristy did not know that could is an irregular word.

PAGE 110

110 In another instance, Kristy experienced diffi culty when she tried to incorporate phonemic awareness knowledge from her UFLI training in to her daily reading instruction with her practicum students. During a guided reading less on, Kristy tried to include the use of Elkonin boxes. Her lack of a deep understanding for th e underlying concepts of Elkonin boxes, however, foiled her instruction. In stead of using Elkonin boxes to prac tice the phonemic aw areness skill of segmenting individual phonemes, Kristy had th e students use the boxes to write down the onset and rime of various words. Several times dur ing the lesson, Kristys confusion about Elkonin boxes resulted in her changing her directions. As students became more confused, they became less engaged in the lesson. In addition to phonemic awareness and phonics instruction, Kristy also experienced problems delivering comprehension instruction. In one lesson, Kristy was teaching a small group of students about a comp rehension strategy called fix-it up a concept she had learned in her Intermediate Reading class. During the lesson, however, she had the students randomly pick words from a passage. The students chose the words pull pulled and pulling none of which were conducive for applying the fix-it up strategy b ecause they already knew the meanings of the words. Reflecting on this lesson Kristy admitted, rig ht off the bat [the words] seem really easy, they shouldnt be using those wo rds. I dont even know if it is valid to work with those words (11.29.07). Thus Kristy knew her lesson was not succe ssful, but the interview data indicated she did not understand the fix-it up stra tegy well enough to think of wa ys to improve the lesson for the future. Kristy had appropriated the label of the fix-it up strategy a nd a few of the surface features but her instruction and later reflections indicated that she did not understand all of the features of the strategy or its underlying concepts.

PAGE 111

111 Kristys appropriation of tools seemed to be highest in one particul ar area of reading-fluency. Not only did Kristy understand the thr ee components of fluency (speed, accuracy, and prosody), but also she was also able to translate that knowledge into effective instruction. In fact, Kristys highest score on the RISE was a 3.0 fo r fluency instruction. While working with one student, the observation data indi cated that Kristy e xplicitly taught him the meaning of prosody, she modeled reading with prosody by reading out loud using expressi on and proper inflection, and then used echo reading to have the student practice read ing with prosody. Interplay of Influences Although Kristys practicum experience cha nged her beliefs about effective reading instruction for struggling read ers, she had few opportunities to observe or enact explicit instruction, therefore, it is unclear to what degree she will be successful in implementing this kind of instruction at a future time. Kristys appropriation of tools seemed to be contingent upon her opportunities to situ ate her knowledge in practice and then have time to reflect on her instruction. At the end of the semester, Kristy affirmed that she felt she could be successful teaching struggling readers. She expressed doubts, howev er, about her ability to teach students with disabilities, stating, it is hard for me to work with students with special needs and find an accommodation that helps the content be more accessible for them (11.29.07). She mentioned she knew she needed to make accommodations for individual students, but she felt like she had not received enough coursework on how to do so. Melanie Entering her practicum with few prior experi ences with struggling readers and having had negative coursework experiences, the practicum placement was the most important influence on Melanies appropriation of tools. Melanies practicum teaching experiences centered on reading

PAGE 112

112 instruction for struggling readers and her c ooperating teacher had sp ecialized knowledge of reading interventions and curricula, thus crea ting an environment rich in opportunities for Melanie to enact her beginning reading knowle dge and receive content specific feedback. Influence of the Individual Prior experiences. As a student, Melanie attended sc hools that utilized self-contained service delivery m odels. She stated, I dont remember anybody ever being special ed in the classroom. SLD classes, they were nt part of our classes. I just remember it being the SLD wing of the building (9.12.07). She went on to talk about how she did not have much experience being in classes with struggling students as she was pulled out for gifted classes. Although entering the PROTEACH program with few prio r experiences with special education or struggling readers, Melani e quickly developed a personal desire to help students with disabilities. In relating why she chose to major in special e ducation Melanie indicated, The more I got into special ed classes, the more, it tugged at my h eart. These kids are falling through the cracks for really, no reason and I think everyone absolutely deserves a chance to get the best education possible (9.12.07). Her cooperating teacher, Mr s. Monroe, who was impressed by Melanies drive and determination to help fragile lear ners, confirmed Melanie s passion for helping students with disabilities. Personal attributes and concerns. In addition to her personal interest in working with students with disabilities, Melanie consistently reflected on her instruction, took responsibility for her students learning, and strived to implem ent the most effective instruction. Reflecting on her opinions about structured reading progr ams like Reading Mastery, Melanie said It does take away from my creativity but it works and you have to do what works, my job is meant to do what works, and it works from what Ive seen. It is very structured and sometimes I get bored with it, but it is not about me it is about [students] (11.30.07).

PAGE 113

113 After watching one of her videotaped lessons Melanie reflected on an activity that did not go as well as she would have liked. Melanie asked her small group of students to complete a workbook page on using context clues that accompanied the Reading Mastery curriculum. The activity turned out to be too ch allenging for the students, but ra ther than blaming the curriculum or the students, Melanie took responsibility and said, that was probably my fault for not thinking they might not ha ve known that (11.30.07). Finally, Melanie did not shy away from challe nges or difficult tasks. She talked about connecting and relating to stude nts as a challenge, a challeng e she wants to meet (9.12.07). Although working with students who struggled with reading was difficult, according to Melanie, working with them has made me want to be with them more (9.12.07). Mrs. Monroe confirmed Melanies strong work ethic when she sa id, Melanie is more than willing to learn, thats something a college cant instill in some one, its just her optimism, her roll up her sleeves attitude (10.7.07). Influence of Social Contexts Practicu m placement. Two aspects of Melanies pr acticum made it particularly meaningful and beneficial for her future goal as a special educator. One aspect was the extensive teaching opportunities with struggling readers, a nd the second aspect was a cooperating teacher who had extensive knowledge of reading instruction for struggling readers. Melanie was placed in a second grade inclus ive classroom with Mrs. Monroe, a general educator, who was responsible for teaching th e two lowest reading groups across the second grade team. According to Melanie, it was this te aching experience that really made a difference in her own reading knowledge abou t reading instruction for student s with disabilities. Having to teach reading to students who experienced difficulties made her go back and hone her knowledge. Melanie talked about having to basica lly go back and learn the alphabet further

PAGE 114

114 stating, this is the first time I have actually had to do it myself with the kids as opposed to just being told okay this is what it is, learn it, but actually having to do it made it more relevant for me (10.10.07). In addition to influencing her knowledge, Melanies teaching experiences during her practicum influenced her core beliefs about spec ial education and reading instruction for students with disabilities. Melanie said Before, I was not an advocate for inclusive classr oom at all. I thought th is is ridiculous, the teacher cant do it, why are all these kids, meaning special ed kids, losing out on instruction because someone wants them in a normal classroom. They need to get what they need to get. But since being in a classr oom with special ed kids, I would definitely push for [inclusion] because I have seen the kids that are struggling excel, they do well. I dont think it is applicable for every special ed kid, but theres definitely some students who can succeed and I think that they deserve it. I like seeing faces of kids and working with kids and I dont want them to be the odd kid or anything like that (11.30.07). Furthermore, upon seeing the success that her practicum students experienced when they received explicit, system atic, intensive, small group reading instruction, Melanie felt that these students have to have it or th ey are not going to get it (11.3 0.07). For Melanie, the practicum placement was proof that students with disabili ties could be included in general education classrooms and yet still receive the inte nsive instruction that they needed. Melanie attributes the success of her practicum to Mrs. Monroe. Although Mrs. Monroe was not a special educator, her prior work as a Title 1 teacher and a consultant for the McGraw Hill publishing group resulted in her extensive knowledge about reading, specifically for struggling readers and students with reading disabilities. As a fo rmer publishing consultant, Mrs. Monroe had a plethora of maninpulatives and read ing resources at her disposal, and Melanie was free to use them in her instruction. Mrs. Monr oes extensive collecti on of resources helped Melanie see the variety of ways instruction can be made more concrete and engaging for students. Observation data verified her use of manipulatives in her instruction. In one lesson,

PAGE 115

115 Melanie made use of letter sound cards displaye d on the wall, while in another lesson, she used dry erase boards with Elkonin boxes on them, and fi nally she used a specialized board game that helped the students practice spelling. When it came to lesson planning, Mrs. Monroe was a source of support for Melanie. Mrs. Monroe was always willing to an swer Melanies questions about an upcoming lesson, and in fact Mrs. Monroe had a sequence of support she used wh en helping Melanie so that her lessons could be as successful as possi ble. Mrs. Monroe said I have her watch some components, and then I have her step in while Im there to coach and get her a little more comfor table with the language. And th en we talk about looking at the next day, some of the activities that sh e could do on her own and we make a copy of the teachers edition to take home with her to practice and then she comes in and teaches the lesson and then we debrief after the lesson about what went well an d things that didnt go well and what we would do differe ntly. And go from there (10.7.07). In addition to support with lesson planning, Mr s. Monroe provided Melanie with specific feedback related to reading in c onjunction with feedback on genera l instructional practices. Mrs. Monroes coaching resulted in Me lanie consistently delivering c oherent lessons during all three observations. University influence. When it came to her reading coursework, Melanie expressed discouragement and frustration. She spoke about her Emergent Literacy course as a negative experience, the class was so disorganized that I felt I got a major disservi ce and didnt learn that much about reading. I didnt want to teach reading after that cla ss, and everyone in the class will tell you that. I dont know if its [the course in structors] fault, or just miscommunication (9.12.07). Melanies negative feelings had a lasting impact, because when she needed to go back and learn more about phonemic awareness and p honics to prepare for one of her practicum lessons, Melanie was resistant to referring back to her Emergent Literacy course materials

PAGE 116

116 because she did not think the class was worthwhi le. In speaking about her Intermediate reading course, Melanie said they did some good lesso ns, but she did not recall anything specific. Interview data indicated that for Melanie, the knowledge she was exposed to during her coursework only became clear and meaningful when she had an opportunity to link it to classroom practice. Melanie stressed that, its fi nally clicked now that we re working with kids, oh that is what [course instructor s] meant. I never felt I actually go t a grasp of it until we stated doing it in the placement (9.12.07). Appropriation of Tools Melan ies positive practicum experience, with its structured curriculum and knowledgeable cooperating teacher, supported her re ading instruction. Over the course of the semester, Melanies overall cla ssroom practice rating on the RISE increased from 3 to 3.5. By the final observation, Melanie received a rati ng of 4 on both phonemic awareness and phonics and 3.5 on fluency, some of the highest sc ores across all of the participants. According to Melanie, observing Mrs. Monroe and having to teach students helped her appropriate knowledge of individua l letter sounds, includ ing the proper way to say all the letter sounds as well as other information like whet her a sound is voiced or unvoiced, stopped or continuous. Although Melanies Emer gent Literacy class covered information about the letter sounds, Melanie reported she did not truly appropriate this knowledge until being placed in her practicum. Observation data confirmed Melani es appropriation of the letter sounds while teaching in her practicum. During a review, Melanie pointed to the letter b and asked one of the students for the proper sound. The student said /bah/ and Melani e corrected him by saying, its not /bah/ its /b/, it is a st opped sound (10.2.07). Here is an ex ample of how Melanies social context mediated her knowledge, helping her ap propriate knowledge abou t letter sounds that moves beyond just the letters label and basic sound.

PAGE 117

117 Melanie also appropriated tools about positiv e reinforcement and behavior charts linked to extrinsic rewards. Melanie described how one reading group in particular posed some formidable behavior problems, t hus Mrs. Monroe decided to impl ement a formal behavior plan. The students each had a behavior sheet and would earn xs in a grid when they demonstrated appropriate behavior. When a stude nts grid was full, he or sh e would earn a reward. Seeing how well the behavior plan worked, Melanie incorpor ated it into her instruction. During all three observations, Melanie rewarded students with an x on their sheet when they successfully completed work and when they were exhibiting appropriate behavior. The influence of Melanies practicum placement on her classroom manageme nt was beneficial because, of the six participants, her scores on classroom management were among the highest. Finally, Melanie appropriated c onceptual and practical tools regarding proper instruction for students with disabilities, in struction that is engaging, intens ive, explicit, and systematic. Melanie understood that engaging st udents in instruction was cr itical, and she expanded on the Reading Mastery curriculum to make it more engaging. During one observation, Melanie added a mini lesson on phonemic segmentation using Elkoni n boxes that were displayed on magnetic dry erase boards. When asked about expanding Reading Mastery to include the mini lesson, Melanie said I am sure you are supposed to stick to that ri gid structure all the tim e but I think that can get really tedious. I thin k using this manipulative is different it is engaging plus they get to do it themselves, so it is reinforcing the lesson. It is the same skill, just a little different and fun. It is almost like a treat but without lo sing what we are really trying to accomplish (11.30.07). Here Melanie was not bound by the curriculum, ra ther she used its structure in conjunction with her own knowledge of reading and effective instructional practices, thus serving as evidence of Melanies appropriation of curriculum as a tool.

PAGE 118

118 Melanie also learned about the power of sma ll group instruction that is intensive. Her interview comments indicated he r understanding of the purpos e of small group instruction reached conceptual levels. She talked about two students who had made ex traordinary growth in the small group and whose progress monitoring scores indicated they were nearly ready for the larger, on grade level reading group. Reflecti ng on the two students Melanie surmised The whole point of small groups is to speed them along, get them back into the regular class, and they have to go at a way faster pa ce to get there. That was like, right there for me, ah-hah, with the right inst ruction, they can learn and make massive leaps (11.30.07). Melanies post concept map corroborated her appropriation of tools about reading instruction for students with disabilities. Wher eas her pre-concept map only included information about the five areas of reading, her post-concept map included ideas about instruction needing to be explicit and systematic. Interplay of Influences Before entering her practicum, Melanie felt least confident in he r abilities to teach reading, something she attributed to her negative coursework experiences. After completing her practicum with Mrs. Monroe, however, Melanie fe lt that providing beginning reading instruction to struggling readers was the area she felt most prepared to teach. Observing the students success throughout the semester confirmed her desire to be a special educ ator, and her beliefs changed to accept inclusive models that are design ed to provide struggling readers with intensive reading instruction. Nancy An especially important influence for Nancy was her family. Having a brother with a disability resulted in Nancy wan ting to be a special educator. Her practicum placement was also an important albeit negative influence. Bei ng placed in a challenging classroom, with little

PAGE 119

119 guidance or flexibility, had las ting negative repercussions, culmin ating in Nancy questioning her abilities as a teacher, particularly a special educator. Influence of the Individual Prior experiences. Nancys m otivation for being a sp ecial educator originated from observing her brothers academic struggles. Nancy s brother was placed in self-contained special education classes and Nancy believed his teach ers had low expectations of him and did not provide him with the quality education he dese rved. Her experiences with her brother also shaped her beliefs about special education and the need to include students in the general education class. In addition to having a strong desire to help students with disabilities, Nancy also had interest in helping students from high poverty homes. Her practicum placement and prior field placements were in schools with the lo west SES levels in the district. Personal attributes and concerns. Although Nancy wanted to help students from high poverty homes, several barriers stood in her way of successfully working with such students. First, Nancy was shy, soft spoken, and timid. She admitted that she did not think she had the personality to work in high poverty schools. Second, Nancys background was not similar to the students she taught. When talking about what was most difficult about her practicum, Nancy ac knowledged, being from a very different background from some of the students. Not that I thought le ss of them because of it, but because maybe I did not have that real understanding of where they come from (12.12.07). Her prior experiences and responses on the belief s survey confirmed the background differences Nancy described. Nancy attended rural and s uburban schools as a student. Although there was some cultural diversity in schools Nancy atte nded, her honors classes were mostly White.

PAGE 120

120 Nancys practicum class, however, was composed of all African American students with the majority of them qualifying for free/reduced lunch. Finally, Nancy lacked confidence about her teaching abilities, st ating, I am just wondering how I will handle the classroom by my self (12.12.07). During observations, Nancy was noticeably nervous, often flus hing, clearing her thro at, and speaking with a tremble in her voice. According to Mrs. Nell, to improve he r teaching, Nancy needed to be sterner because, she is so soft spoken and sometimes the students are not paying attention (11.14.07). Influence of Social Contexts Practicu m placement. Roosevelt Elementary was a Success for All (SFA) school, which meant for reading, the students acro ss the entire school were ability grouped. Mrs. Nells reading class was on a 3.2 level, meaning second half of third grade. For th ese students, reading instruction centered on fluency, vocabulary, a nd comprehension. Under the SFA model, there was also a large writing component. Accordi ng to Nancy the SFA m odel and curriculum: Has its good points and bad point s. I dont like the comprehe nsion questions. They have open ended questions that I guess are that higher order, but th en they only have one answer and not even I knew what that one answer was wh en I am trying to help [students] so I get very frustrated. I do like how they have [word reading] strategies, but I dont like how they only go with one strategy because there are alwa ys different strategies to approach words (10.24.07). Observation data confirmed Nancys frustra tion with the comprehension questions. Once, while students were working to answer some comprehension questions they encountered a question that was particularly confusing. Severa l students asked Nancy for help, but she did not understand the intent of the question. After wrest ling to find the answer and being unsuccessful, Nancy and the students had to turn to Mrs. Nell for help, but Mrs. Nell, also confused by the question, resolved the confusion by telling the students to skip it.

PAGE 121

121 When asked about accommodations for students with disabilities in the class, Nancy attested, I havent seen any (9.20.07). Aside from being placed in reading skill groups, no additional accommodations were made for student s with disabilities accor ding to the observation data. For example, students who were reading be low grade level were not given any small group intensive reading instruction during the 90-mi nute reading block. Furthermore, students who exhibited extreme behavior problems were not given any specific behavior management plan. Rather than receiving accommodations, they were moved out of Mrs. Nells class. Despite the removal of the two students with behavior problems, classroom management continued to be a problem in Mrs. Nells class, creating much stress for Nancy. Mrs. Nell herself admitted that, now this is a difficult class a nd at times its a little difficult for me (11.14.07). Classroom observations confirmed the challengi ng student behaviors. Students often argued over their assignments, got out of their seats without permission, a nd shouted across the room. During one observation, two female students were bickering and the argumen t escalated resulting in the students using inappropriate language, shouting, and rising out of their seats as if to engage in a physical confrontation. Mrs. Nell made one of th e two girls sit by her for an extended period of time until both girls were settled and calm. Although the class posed signifi cant behavior problems, there was no formal classroom management system in place. During Nancys firs t observation, she used different colored paper plates with numbers on the perimeter and cl othespins to reward cooperative group work. According to Nancy when teams were on task, she was supposed to move the clothespin around the plate to designate the number of points the team had earned. If a team earned 20 points the students would get a reward. This system was no t effective, however, because Nancy said the day of the observation was the only time they used it. On the day of the observation, Mrs. Nell

PAGE 122

122 told Nancy to use the plates, but the students were not familiar with the plates. Not being familiar with the classroom management system herself, Nancy, forgot to move the clothespin during the lesson. During later observations, the paper plates we re not used. In a subsequent interview, the researcher asked Nancy why the paper pl ates were abandoned and Nancy replied I think the day that I used it was the only da y we used it and I dont know why but it got to where it just wasnt used anymore. I dont know if it just got to be too hard to observe everyone or is we just didnt know what c onstitutes (points) deserving to go up or down (12.12.07). Adding more stress to the classroom environment, Nancy felt the school culture overemphasized the Florida Comprehensive Asse ssment Test (FCAT). Nancy asserted, it was almost like they were so afraid to fail the FCAT that they focused a lot of their instruction on preparing for the FCAT. So I was stressed. I cant imagine how the students must feel (12.12.07). Mrs. Nell also talked about the need to help stud ents pass the FCAT when she described how they had FCAT article Friday when they incorporated strategies to help the students pass the FCAT. In addition to the classroom and school climate, Mrs. Nells mentoring style also created stress for Nancy. Nancy reported that she di d not get much guidance when planning and preparing for lessons when she said, I didnt really talk to [Mrs. Nell]. She told me to go to the SFA room and get the books and I copied off the lesson from the teachers manual and looked at it and that was about it (10.24.07). Mrs. Nell verified the lack of lesson collaboration when she admitted We plan it together, well not necessarily plan it together. Basically she plans it on her own because I give her the teachers book and she has watched me enough to know what to do. So she basically plans it on her own, all I really do is give he r the book and she does the rest (11.14.07). Receiving adequate feedback was also a problem Nancy encountered. Nancy talked about how she did not get sufficient feedback because, it is such a busy classroom and I am tutoring

PAGE 123

123 during the resource which is her pl anning time. It is hard to ge t her and I email and she had a hard time getting back to me (10.24.07). When Mrs. Nell did provide Nancy with feedback, the feedback was not specific and did not guide Nancy as to what she should do to change or improve her instruction. The combination of negative factors aff ected on Nancys instruction and overall confidence. From the observation data, it was cl ear that as behavior problems unfolded during her instruction, and Nancy did not have effectiv e ways to handle them, students often sought out Mrs. Nell to resolve the problems. Nancy reflecte d, I wish I could have built more trust with them, but knowing that I am only there three days a week, it is understandable, plus they know that I am just a helper and she is the main teacher (12.12.07). Because Nancy had to spend so much time and energy trying to maintain class control, she could not focus on refining her reading instruction. After watching one of her videotaped lessons, Nancy noticed that she had to virtually read from the teachers manual wh en providing reading instruction. She hoped she would have more opportunities to deliver reading instruction because she wanted to move away from always relying on the teachers edition a nd instead develop her own instructional dialogue. University influence. The role of coursework in Nanc ys teaching is somewhat unclear. She talked about UFLI training being the most meaningful university experience because it helped her have a clearer understa nding of the concepts she lear ned in her Emergent Literacy course. She reported, being intimidated after taki ng the Emergent Literacy course because of the amount of content. All of the Emergent L iteracy course instruct ors confirmed the large amount of course material. In fact, Instructor A commented that a way to improve the class would be to extend it over the c ourse of two semesters rather than just one. Nancy also talked about being intimidated to teach reading because as a good reader, she was not aware of all the

PAGE 124

124 processes that go into reading a nd learning to read. Her coursework made her realize how hard reading is to teach (9.20.07). Although she learned about reading from the university coursework, the confining regimen of the SFA curriculum did not leave Nancy much room to implement any of her reading tools. Nancy had mixed feelings about the suggestio ns offered by her field supervisor, Mrs. Baker. Nancy said Mrs. Baker gave her some a dvice on behavior management that was helpful, but Mrs. Bakers advice on developing a teachin g style was more difficult to accept. Nancy talked about not being able to develop her own st yle, especially with he r practicum class because they were so chatty and hard to control. Appropriation of Tools Nancys tim idity and lack of confidence coupl ed with an extremel y challenging practicum placement had negative effects on her tool approp riation and classroom reading instruction. On the RISE, Nancys overall classroom rating increased from a 1.5 to a 2, but these were the lowest scores of all the participants. As noted earlier, there was little evidence that Nancy appropriated any tools concerning classroom management. Her classroom management scores remained at 1.5 throughout the semester; the lo west scores in the study. Nancy seemed to perform better in the area of fluency, with obser vation data supporting her appropriation of tools relate d to fluency instruction and the use of questioning during read-alouds. In fluency, her score increased from a 2 to a 2.5. During the classroom observations, Nancy modeled fluent reading us ing read-a-louds and the students read passages multiple times using independent and partner r eading strategies. Nanc y reported that she read the SFA listening comprehension stories in advance and developed comprehension questions to ask during read-alouds. Observation data confirmed Nancys use of questions that covere d both lower and higher order thinking. What is unclear is whether Nanc y appropriated ideas about fluency instruction

PAGE 125

125 and questioning because the structured SFA curricu lum dictated the use of these practices, or whether Nancy drew from the knowledge she le arned in her Emergent Literacy course. Interplay of Influences Three factors seem ed to stand in the way of Nancys instruction and knowledge appropriation of reading for stude nts with disabilities. Nancys timid personality, her lack of confidence, and the challenging context in which she was placed made for a stressful teaching situation. At the end of the semester, Nancy was left questioning herself and everything she had learned. She described how after one especially frustrating day, she left questioning her teaching skills and her beliefs about teaching. In the end, Nancy admitted not feeling confident to teach struggling readers or studen ts with disabilities. Tricia Several characteristics of Tricias background in fluenced her beliefs and future goals, thus one of the biggest influences on Tricia was the ro le of the individual. Although the data indicated Tricia learned from her practicum placement, she was resistant to it because of the many instructional restricti ons she encountered. Influence of the Individual Prior experiences. Tricias m other was a teacher and throughout the study, it was clear that her mothers influence was important to her. Tricia commented that her interest in special education was sparked because her mother thought special educators could earn more money. In addition to the possibility of earning more income Tricia wanted to major in special education because she wanted to know how to help all st udents. Her goal was to be a general education teacher, but she wanted to have strategies to help students with disabilities that she assumed would be included in her class. In speaking about strategies for help ing all students, Tricia talked

PAGE 126

126 about developing a teacher toolki t, going on to say that she learned about the idea of a teacher toolkit directly from her mom. On her prior experiences and beliefs surve y, Tricia described how as a student, she attended the same private college preparatory sc hool for grades K-12, with a graduating class of 42 predominantly upper-middle class white students. Tricia talked about how she did not relate to many of her students. She described how the st udents in one of her placements were low SES and came from varying backgrounds, going on to say At times I found it difficult to relate to them and I started feeling like maybe I am not really the best person to reach these kids, wher eas I can relate to the kids who have parents who are involved. I dont know, I dont want to come across snobby but I can relate to [higher SES] kids and so I feel like I can probably help them better (9.11.07). Before her practicum placement, Tricia said she had few prior experiences with special education admitting that she thought special educ ation meant you send your kids to another classroom (9.11.07). Additionally, she had no recollec tion for how she learned to read. The first time she had ever thought about how she learned to read was in her reading methods courses. Personal attributes and concerns. Throughout the study, there wa s evidence that Tricia was reflective and a dedicated student. After view ing her video taped less ons, Tricia was always able to articulate several ways in which she could improve. As will be described in a later section, Tricia consistently refl ected on ways to integrate her university coursework with her practicum. Mrs. Taylors comments confirmed Tric ias personal attributes. Mrs. Taylor stressed that Tricia was doing an excellent job and that her lesson plans indicated a great deal of prior thought. One of Tricias goals as a teacher was to make learning and reading fun. Several times throughout the semester, Tricia indicated that the reading instruct ion in her practicum would be better if it incorporated more f un activities, such as readers workshop and silent pleasure

PAGE 127

127 reading. Furthermore, as she was exposed to stra tegies in both her practi cum and her coursework she evaluated them based on whether she thought she would have liked them when she was in elementary school. Influence of Social Contexts Practicu m placement. Tricias practicum placement wa s with Mrs. Taylor, a special educator with almost 40 years of experience. Mrs. Taylor worked with special education students in grades K-3. Mrs. Taylor and the general educ ation teachers used a combined push-in pullout service delivery model. Mrs. Taylor used a comb ination of the basal read ing series and Reading Mastery with her students. Tricia talked at length ab out the restrictions she enc ountered during her practicum placement. She asserted We do the same thing in my placement everyd ay like clockwork, theres not a lot of opportunity to bring in any diffe rent kinds of strategies into her curriculum and I didnt learn Reading Mastery before this semester. So not a lot of things that I learned at UF have been used here. Shes really set in her ways (10.15.07). Mrs. Taylor told Tricia what needed to be done each day, and Tricia was able to choose small variations of how to going about doing it (10.15.07). Tricia gave the example that when Mrs. Taylor told Tricia that th e students needed to reread a stor y, Tricia could choose choral or partner reading, but that was the extent of her instructional free dom. Observation data verified Tricias limitations. Observations one and two were almost identical. Tricia conducted guided reading groups on both occasions. For both lessons she modeled fluent reading and had students take turns reading out loud. When asked about he r use of index cards with vocabulary words on them, Tricia said, I wish it was my idea but that is how Mrs. Taylor does it (12.11.07). For almost every strategy she used, Tricia credited Mrs. Taylor.

PAGE 128

128 Tricias instruction was further limited by th e use of Reading Master y in her practicum. Until Tricia was properly trained in Reading Mast ery, Mrs. Taylor would not permit Tricia to teach the reading groups that utili zed this curriculum. Mrs. Taylor said, it would be nice if she had [Reading Mastery] training because I woul d like for her to take over a whole group (10.8.07). Tricia and the rest of her cohort did not receive Reading Mastery training until November of the fall semester, so Tricia ha d few opportunities to work with students using Reading Mastery before attend ing the November training. Tricia talked about not feeling capable to take over Mrs. Taylors instruction because Mrs. Taylor had such a hard time giving it up. Tricia went on to say, some of my insecurities were because she had such a hard time trusting me to take over (12.11.07). Some of Mrs. Taylors comments shed light on her difficult y in giving the instruction over to Tricia. Mrs. Taylor talked about how she used to have practicum students and interns every year but that some of these preservice teachers did not live up to her expectations. Mrs. Taylor therefore, was hesitant to accept new pre-service teachers and she was often reluct ant to relinquish instru ction to pre-service teachers until she was sure they were serious pre-service teachers, capable of doing a good job. University influence. Tricias university coursework was positive. She felt her Emergent Literacy course was especially meaningful becau se Instructor A was a good teacher. As often as she could, Tricia tried to implement the tool s she learned from her coursework. In one of her prior placements, she used some of the comprehens ion strategies she learned in her Intermediate Reading class. Although Tricia did not have much freedom in her practicum placement, she still thought about the tools she was learning from he r coursework and how she might have applied them to the classroom. For example, during th e study, Tricia had two courses on assessment, thus Tricia talked about how she wished she coul d see the students assessment data so she could

PAGE 129

129 apply some of her assessment knowledge to her practicum. She knew she could not change Mrs. Taylors established routine, so Tricia, with the he lp of her field supervisor, Mrs. Grant, tried to think of small ways to incorporate assessment tools into her instruction. Tr icia tried one of Mrs. Grants suggestions, which was to take some br ief notes on how students did with a particular skill and then use those notes to help differen tiate instruction in s ubsequent lessons. Although Tricia was able to use Mrs. Grants note taking suggestion, she was frustrat ed that she could not try some of the other suggestions because they di d not fit in Mrs. Taylors established routine. Appropriation of Tools Although Tricia com plained about several aspect s of her practicum, her scores on the RISE were some of the highest of all the participan ts. Her overall classroom rating rose from 3 to 3.5 and her classroom management score remained at 3.5 Tricia was one of the only participants who over the course of the semest er had opportunities to implement instruction in all five areas of reading, with no subscale score dropping below 2. In fact, most of her scores on the individual reading components were 3.5. Her post concept ma p also indicated Tricia had appropriated conceptual and practical tools a bout reading instructi on, especially for struggling readers. While her pre-concept map only included six terms, only one of which addressed the five major reading components, her post-concept map depicted 30 term s, with all five areas of reading, ways to teach them, and concepts about direct instruction. At the end of the semester, Tricia underst ood that struggling readers and students with disabilities benefit from explic it instruction. She talked about how it was helpful to see how patient Mrs. Taylor was with th e students and the clarity with which she delivered instruction. Although Tricia realized that stude nts improved with the explicit and direct instruction that was a part of Reading Mastery, she still thought the students s hould learn about fun things

PAGE 130

130 (12.11.07). Tricia went on to talk about the need for students to choose fun books that they would love to read. Tricia also acquired knowledge of the letter sounds. She talk ed about learning the sounds from Instructor C and the UFLI training, but it was not until she used Reading Mastery that she felt confident making the sounds. Observation data from her final observation showed that Tricia had proper knowledge of the lette r sounds as she was implementing Reading Mastery. Here is an example in which Tricia appropriated labels and surface features of lett ers and their sounds, but it is not clear whether she learned more sophist icated knowledge about letter sounds such as the different types of sounds and prope r sequences for introducing sounds. Finally, Tricia appropriated conceptual and practical tools concerning various classroom management techniques including using positive rein forcement and negative reinforcement. Mrs. Taylor, and subsequently Tricia awarded students yes and no monkey points. At the end of the week, students who had less than two no m onkey points earned a monkey prize. The prize was a chance to watch a battery operated, pur ple stuffed animal monkey scream. During her observations, Tricia was seen giving yes monkey points when st udents followed directions and completed their individual turns during Readi ng Mastery. She did, however, give one student a no monkey point for being off task and disrupt ive. Reflecting on the negative reinforcement Tricia stated she did not think the no monkeys were as effective because after receiving a no monkey, some students got upset and shut down. Tric ia further commented th at Mrs. Taylor had a strategy for avoiding these type s of shut-downs. As soon as a child received a no monkey point, Mrs. Taylor would immedi ately give the child an opportunity for success, and therefore a yes monkey point and that would bring the student back into th e instruction. Reflecting on Mrs. Taylors use of positive and negative reinforcement, Tricia seemed to be reaching some

PAGE 131

131 conceptual understanding behind the use of this type of behavior management system, because she not only knew its label and surface features but she also understood the conditions under which the system could be most effective for students. In addition to positive and negative reinforcement, the observation data indicated that Tricia also appropriated other classroom management tools. During instruction, Tricia always spoke, slowly, calmly, and quietly. Her tone of voice seemed to calm the students and forced them to pay attention to her. She also reviewed the rules and behavioral expectations at the beginning of each lesson. When asked about this strategy, Tricia said she learned it from Mrs. Taylor. Interplay of Influences Although Tricia had negative perceptions of her practicum due to its instructional restrictions, the interview and observation data indicated Tricia appropriated valuable tools. What is unclear is whether Tricia will draw upon any of her practicum knowledge in future teaching situations. At the end of the semester, Tricia admitted feeling most confident to teach the areas of reading that she had practiced during her practicum phonemic awareness and phonics. She stated she felt less comfortable with comprehension because she did not have as many opportunities to teach it. Tricia felt confiden t to teach struggling readers, especially when given a supportive curriculum lik e Reading Mastery, but she did not feel as confident to teach students with disabilities, because she lacked knowledge in how to determine individual students needs, deliver targeted instruction gauged at that those needs, and then evaluate whether the students needs were met. Summary The influences of the individual, unive rsity, and practicum placement interacted differently for each of the six participants and their appropriation of tool s to teach reading to

PAGE 132

132 struggling readers and students w ith disabilities. Although there were differences between the participants and their learning influences, as th e next chapter will show, these differences come together to form an explanatory model of preservice teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. In the following chapter, this model, or grounded theory will be discussed.

PAGE 133

133Table 4-1. Influences on i ndividual pre-service teacher s appropriation of tools. Selective codes Axial codes Anita Colleen Kristy Melanie Nancy Tricia Personal qualities rigid adherence to structure (I) takes initiative(I) open minded(I) determined( I) timid(I) reflective(I) organized (I) desire to be liked(I) difficulty with school(I) accepts challenges(I) lacks confidence(I) dedicated time to lesson planning(I) dedicated time to lesson planning(I) difficulty with reading knowledge(I) reflective(I) developed personal teaching style(I) reflective(I) strives for excellence(I) systematic(I) honest about abilities(I) receptive to feedback(I) limited time spent planning(I) Motivation for knowledge assimilation positive family influence(I) sibling w/ disability(I) strong dedication to teaching(I) wants to implement effective instruction(I) intrinsic motivation to help students w/ disabilities(I) positive family influence(I) intrinsic motivation to help students w/ disabilities(I) intrinsic motivation to help students w/ disabilities(I) strong desire to improve(I) intrinsic motivation to help students w/ disabilities(I) sibling w/ disability(I) future goal as general educator(I)

PAGE 134

134 Table 4-1. Continued Selective codes Axial codes Anita Colleen Kristy Melanie Nancy Tricia future goal as special educator(I) accountable for delivering instruction(P) accountable for delivering instruction(P) wants larger salary(I) accountable for delivering instruction(P) takes responsibility for student learning(I) Access to knowledge prior experiences observing in inclusive classrooms(I) UFLI(U) UFLI(U) negative Emergent Literacy course(U) general education cooperating teacher(P) mother is teacher(I) lack of opportunities to observe accommodations(P) special education cooperating teacher(P) general education cooperating teacher(P) few prior experiences with special education(I) cooperating teacher w/ limited time(P) lack of prior special education experiences(I) cooperating teacher lacking beginning reading knowledge(P) few prior special education experiences (I) Emergent Literacy(U) special education cooperating teacher(I) limited access to special education knowledge(P) lack of prior reading memories(I) general education cooperating teacher(P) few early reading memories(I) field supervisor(U) limited feedback in practicum(P) special education cooperating teacher(P)

PAGE 135

135 Table 4-1. Continued Selective codes Axial codes Anita Colleen Kristy Melanie Nancy Tricia Emergent Literacy(U) multiple teachers in the classroom(P) lack of opportunities to observe explicit instruction(P) Emergent Literacy(U) Emergent Literacy(U) field supervisor(U) conflicting coursework(U) UFLI(U) assessment courses(U) assessment courses(U) field supervisor(U) field supervisor(U) UFLI(U) Opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice few opportunities to implement intensive reading instruction(P) lack of opportunities to plan instruction(P) changes reading beliefs(P) exclusive work with students with disabilities(P) different cultural backgrounds(I,P) different cultural backgrounds(I, P) no classroom differentiation(P) gaps between university and practicum(U,P) helps identify holes in knowledge(P) multiple opportunities to teach reading(P) challenging classroom management(P) little instructional freedom(P) little instructional freedom(P) multiple service delivery models(P) opportunities for 5 big areas(P) changes beliefs about special education(P) limited teaching opportunities(P) confining curriculum(P) gaps between university & practicum (U,P) exclusive work w/ students w/ disabilities(P) no opportunities for vocab or comp (P) FCAT focus(P) opportunities for 5 big areas(P)

PAGE 136

136 Table 4-1. Continued Selective codes Axial codes Anita Colleen Kristy Melanie Nancy Tricia no opportunity for PA, phonics, or fluency(P) no opportunities for fluency, vocab, or comp (P) confining curriculum(P) no opportunities for PA or phonics Note. (I)=influence of the individual; (U )= influence of the university; (P)= influence of the practicum.

PAGE 137

137 CHAPTER 5 THE GROUNDED THEORY ON PRE-SERV I CE TEACHER APPROPRIATION OF CONCEPTUAL AND PRACTICAL TOOLS The purpose of this chapter is to present a grounded theory on special education preservice teachers appropri ation of conceptual and practical tool s related to reading instruction for struggling readers and students w ith disabilities. The grounded theo ry emerged from data that focused on the influences that mediated the preservice teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. The influences included those rela ted to the individual and to social contexts, in this case the university and the practicum experien ce. Chapter four described the impact of these influences on individual pre-service teacher s. Developed through cross-case analysis, the grounded theory uncovered the relationships among influences that mediated special education pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tools for teaching reading to students with disabilities. The researcher look ed for concepts that were consistent across participants, thus completing the cross-case analys is. These main concepts framed all coded data for participants. The grounded theory provides an analytical explanation of how the various influences interact to promote or hinder pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Using data from interviews, classroom obser vations, and artifacts, the researcher examined the role of individual in fluences and the role of social c ontext influences on the participants appropriation of pedagogical tools, all of which comprise activity theory. Integrating the data using constant questioning and comparison, the rese archer discovered the core concept, which is the main theme of the study and the component con cepts, which interact with the core concept to form a complete theory to understand the appr opriation of conceptual and practical tools. Figure 5-1 illustrates this gr ounded theory consisting of (a) the three activity systems and the influences contained therein, (b) the core co ncept and three component concepts that impact

PAGE 138

138 the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, and (c) inte raction of concepts under which this appropriation takes place. For a comprehe nsive list of each activity system and its constituent influences, refer to Table 5-1. The shaded rounded rectangle containing opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice represents the core concept. This core con cept emerged as the most important factor in pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. Without opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice, the pre-service teachers adopti on of conceptual and practical tools reached low levels at best. This concept becomes inextricably linked to the three component concepts and serves as the primary conduit through whic h the three component concepts are connected. The r ounded rectangles in the middle of the diagram represent the component concepts that either worked to support or hinder preservice teacher tool appropriation including (a) pers onal qualities, (b) motivation fo r knowledge assimilation, and (c) access to knowledge. These three component concepts interacted with the core concept to shape the pre-service teachers appropr iation of conceptual and practical tools. The double arrows linking the core concept to the three component concepts denote two-way interactions. In other words, the core concept influenced the component concepts and vice ve rsa. Although the data did provide evidence of the two-way interacti ons between the core concept and component concepts, without following the pre-service teac hers beyond their practicum experience, it is difficult to fully understand the nature of th ese two-way interacti ons. The bidirectional relationships between the core and component concepts, therefore, are represented by dotted lines. The pre-service teachers personal qualities, su ch as personal attribut es, academic ability, future goals, beliefs, and concerns, emerged as im portant influences. Personal qualities shed light

PAGE 139

139 on how the pre-service teacher s perceived themselves, others, and their surroundings. Additionally, this component concep t provided insights into what th e pre-service teachers valued and how they approached tasks. While personal qualities influenced pre-service teachers opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice the reverse was also true. For example, Nancys timidity thwarted her ability to manage classroom behaviors, which ultimately foiled her reading instruction. The opportunity to approp riate her knowledge in a challenging practicum placement, however, diminished her confidence, leaving her feeling ine fficacious. Hence, the interaction between the core concept and pe rsonal qualities worked in two directions. Closely related to personal qualities was motivation, either intrinsic or extrinsic, for knowledge assimilation. This component concept included the pre-servic e teachers impetuses for appropriating conceptual and practical tool s. For instance, upon entering her practicum, Melanie had little motivation to learn the phoni cs knowledge she was exposed to during her Emergent Literacy course. Being responsible for delivering effec tive beginning reading instruction in her practicum, however, increased her motivation to appropriate phonics tools. The final component concept, access to knowle dge, included all th e sources of knowledge available to the pre-service teachers. The rela tionship between access to knowledge and the core concept also worked in two directions. For example, Kristy had access to phonics knowledge from her Emergent Literacy cour se, but it was the opportunity to appropriate this knowledge in practice that helped her realize she did not fully understand phonics. As a result, Kristy sought help from her cooperating teacher and field supervisor, thus increasing her access to knowledge. Though Table 4-1 in chapter 4 presented selectiv e and axial codes to i llustrate how various influences affected each of the participants differentially, the grounded theory diagram provides a conceptual framework that rela tes the various influences and

PAGE 140

140 concepts and explains how they mediated preservice teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tools as a collectiv e group, hence the cross-case analys is. As the flow of arrows in diagram 5-1 indicates, the activity systems influe nced the various component concepts, which in turn interacted with the core concept to influe nce the levels at which conceptual and practical tools were appropriated. In the following sections, extensive disc ussions about the core concept and component concepts and their interrelationships will be discussed. Core Concept: Opportunities to Appr opriate Know ledge in Practice The six pre-service teachers, th eir cooperating teachers, their field supervisors, and their course instructors all emphasized the necessity of having opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice. The partic ipants talked about how having chan ces to implement reading knowledge in classroom settings was crucial to pre-service teacher appropriation of c onceptual and practical tools. The practicum, therefore, emerged as the mo st critical activity syst em. For example, Mrs. Carter described the practicum as being the place where pre-service teachers really learn to teach. The opportunity to appropr iate knowledge in practice he lped the pre-service teachers realize the relevance and importan ce of their reading coursework. As Instructor D indicated, the pre-service teachers did not always appreciate the Emergent Lite racy course content until they had to implement this knowledge in classrooms. Colleen, Melanie, and Kristy all spoke about how learning phonics during Emergent Literacy seemed unimportant and demeaning until they had to draw on this knowledge to instruct st ruggling readers. Kristy spoke about how her practicum experience helped her gauge her comma nd of the knowledge from her coursework and UFLI training. For some pre-service teachers, the pract icum and its opportunities to appropriate conceptual and practical tools in practice seemed to signify the point during the PROTEACH program at which their coursework knowledge st arted to coalesce into a meaningful body of

PAGE 141

141 knowledge and as Mrs. Carter stated where [the y] really learn[ed] to teach. For these preservice teachers, positiv e interactions between (a) opportunitie s to appropriate conceptual and practical tools in practice and (b) component concepts seemed to be associated with higher levels of appropriation. Unfortunately, not all pre-servi ce teachers had such positive experiences when it came to opportunities to appropria te conceptual and practical to ols in practice. The negative interactions experienced by some pre-service teachers appeared to have a detrimental effect on the levels to which their appropr iation of tools could occur. A number of factors, both positive and negative, determined the extent to which the preservice teachers had opportunities to appropriate their tools in practice. These factors emerged as the predominant influences characterizing the practicum activity system. First, the grade level in which a pre-service teacher was pl aced greatly influenced the areas of reading she could observe and teach. For example, Anitas practicum in a third grade classroom meant she had multiple opportunities to teach vocabulary and comprehension, but fewer chances to teach phonics or phonemic awareness. As a result, Anita felt more confident in her abili ties to teach vocabulary and comprehension. Furthermore, Anitas inte rview statements indicated her knowledge of vocabulary and comprehension was more sophi sticated than her knowledge of phonics and phonemic awareness. The opposite was true fo r Colleen who primarily taught phonics and phonemic awareness to Kindergartners as opposed to vocabulary and comprehension Second, the service delivery model employed in the practicum and what participants were allowed to do within the model influenced the participants opport unities to appropriate conceptual and practical tools. Participants in inclusive classrooms reported having fewer opportunities to observe special education acco mmodations and intensiv e reading instruction compared to the participants who were placed in resource rooms or push-in, pull-out models.

PAGE 142

142 Melanie reported that pulling sma ll groups of students for intens ive reading instruction helped her understand the reading proce ss and the specific struggles some students encounter when learning to read. Colleen, Melanie, and Tricia all delivered intensive, targeted reading instruction to small groups of struggling readers because th eir practicum placements used pull-out models for reading. Anita, Kristy, and Nancy, however, taught in inclusive classroo ms where instruction was not differentiated. Although they had some opportunities to work with small groups of students, the instruction was not individualized or intensive. The third influence and, according to the da ta, the most important was the cooperating teacher. Colleen, Melanie, and Tricia had multiple opportunities to observe systematic reading instruction because they were paired with c ooperating teachers who had extensive knowledge of special education and the instructional needs of students with disabilities. Cooperating teachers paired with Colleen, Melanie, a nd Tricia were able to provide feedback that was specific to explicit, systematic reading in struction and behavior management, thus Colleen, Melanie, and Tricia were the only pre-service teachers that appropriated tools conc erning phonics instruction and specific behavior management plans. Anita, Kristy, and Nancy were paired with general educators who had less knowledge about disabilitie s and special educatio n reading instruction, thus the feedback they received focused more on general reading knowle dge and instructional practices such as instructional paci ng and the use of specific feedback. Furthermore, Anita and Nancy reported they did not receive sufficient feedback of any kind. Anita stated her cooperating teacher did not observe her inst ruction on a regular basis and Nancy said the feedback she received did not pi npoint ways she could improve her instruction. For both Anita and Nancy the lack of consistent, qua lity feedback appeared to impact their scores on the RISE negatively because their scores did not improve like those of the other pre-service

PAGE 143

143 teachers who reported they received adequate feedback both before and after teaching a lesson. With the exception of Kristy, the participants who received sufficient feedback and support received the highest scores on the RISE. As will be discussed later, it seemed some of Kristys personal qualities im peded her progress. A final cooperating teacher characteristic th at impacted the pr e-service teachers opportunities to appropriate their knowledge was the extent to which cooperating teachers provided pre-service teachers with teaching opportunities. Nancy documented having few opportunities to teach reading. Similarly, Tricia described how for se veral weeks at the beginning of her practicum she had to sit back an d watch Mrs. Taylors in struction because Mrs. Taylor hesitated turning over the class to a pr e-service teacher. Although both Nancy and Tricia had opportunities to observe thei r cooperating teachers instructi on, this was not as meaningful or insightful as when they delivered instructi on themselves. Over time, Tricia was given more teaching responsibilities, thus she reported an increase in self-efficacy, but unfortunately, for Nancy, her limited chances to teach reading seemed to be associated with diminishing levels of self-efficacy concerning struggling read ers and students with disabilities. The fourth factor affecti ng pre-service teachers opport unities to appropriate their knowledge was student characteristics, specifica lly students cultural and economic backgrounds and the pre-service teachers pe rceptions of cultural mismatches between themselves and their students. Nancy and Tricia spoke about how th eir backgrounds did not match those of their students, thus having negative re percussions on their instructi on. Nancy explained how she was unsure how to address the specific needs of her students, all of whom were African American and came from low-income homes. Nancys uncer tainties affected her self-efficacy negatively, thus leading to behavior manage ment problems, which derailed her reading instruction. Tricia

PAGE 144

144 talked about how she did not know how to help students from low SES ho mes, stating I found it difficult to relate to [kids from low SES homes] and I started feeling like maybe I am not the best person to reach [them], whereas I can relate to the kids who have parents who are involved (9.11.07). Curriculum was the final influence on pre-se rvice teachers opport unities to appropriate their knowledge in practice. Anita and Kristy were placed in practicum experiences that utilized the district adopted basal readi ng series, thus they had more freedom in their lesson planning. The reading basal, however, was not designed for struggling reader s specifically and therefore, Anita and Kristy did not have many opportunities to enact sy stematic, explicit reading instruction. Nancys placement used the basal re ading series in conjunction with the Success for All (SFA) program. The result was that Nancy wa s limited in her freedom to plan lessons and she did not observe systematic, explicit reading instruction. Nancy talked about how she did not get to implement many of the tools she learne d in her reading methods courses due to the confining curriculum. Colleen, Melanie, and Tricia, on the other ha nd, used the direct instruction, scripted Reading Mastery curriculum, and as a result, th ey all reported having little freedom in their lesson planning. For example, Melanie noted that Reading Mastery took away from her creativity. Tricia never took credit for any lesson planning due to the cons traints of the Reading Mastery program and the inflexibility of her cooperating teachers rout ines and procedures. Although they had little voice in what and how they taught, Colleen, Mela nie, and Tricia all learned how to implement instruc tion using a curriculum that is designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The supportive structure of the Reading Mastery curriculum facilitated their instruction, perhaps helping them reach hi gher scores on the RISE. For example, the

PAGE 145

145 Reading Mastery script prompted the pre-servic e teachers to provide students with specific feedback, give students plentiful opportunitie s to respond, and include both guided and independent practice. In the end, Colleen, Melanie, and Tricia a ll supported the use of Reading Mastery despite its scripted nature because of the progress they observed in their students. Although the opportunity to appropriate know ledge in practice emerged as the most important, or core concept, three other component concepts (a) personal qualities, (b) motivation for knowledge assimilation, and (c) access to knowle dge also affected the pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tool s. In the following sections, these component concepts and their interactions are discussed in detail. Component Concept: Personal Qualities The com ponent concept of personal qualities was comprised of several elements, including personal attributes, academic ability, fu ture goals, personal concerns, and beliefs. At the most basic level, personal qualities are inte rnal characteristics that contribute to a persons individuality. Data showed that all three activity systems influenced the per-service teachers personal qualities. Personal qualities impacted appropriation of co nceptual and practical tools in both positive and negative ways. In general, positive personal attributes such as reflectiveness, dedication, and initiative seemed to facilitate tool appropria tion to higher levels. Pre-service teachers whose future goals aligned with thei r practicum also experienced gr eater success with appropriation. Pre-service teachers whose concer ns centered on the academic needs of their students seemed to reach higher appropriation levels. Fi nally, the ways in which beliefs interacted with opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practi ce determined the extent to which the pre-service teachers beliefs changed. An in-depth discussion of these personal qualities and how they interacted with the other component concepts and th e core concept is provided below.

PAGE 146

146 Personal Attributes In this sec tion, the role of personal attributes, including personality dispositions and academic ability will be discussed in light of the pre-se rvice teachers appropriation of tools. For Colleen and Melanie, personality dispositions pl ayed a positive role in their appropriation of tools. Both Colleen and Melanie showed initia tive during their practicum placements, actively seeking help and answers to thei r questions, thus facilitating th eir instruction and appropriation of tools. For Nancy, aspects of her personality did not help her overcome a difficult practicum situation. Nancy felt her practicum students were pa rticularly difficult to manage. Her lack of confidence and timidity often compounded her difficulties managing classroom behavior, and this seemed to color her perceptions of herself. Thus, Nancy had few positive teaching experiences during her practicum. In the case of Nancy, her personality dispositions coupled with a negative practicum appeared to accentuate her lack of confidence for her own abilities. For the rest of the participants, personal at tributes, including persona lity dispositions and academic ability played a either positive or ne gative role in appropr iation of practical and conceptual tools, mostly because of how they in teracted with the practicum and its opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice. Kristys difficulties under standing reading coupled with a practicum that lacked explicit, systematic instru ction often limited her a ppropriation of tools. For example, interview and observation data indicate d Kristy did not appropriate conceptual or practical tools about irregular words. During interviews, Kristy often confused irregular and regular words. Observation data showed that Kr istys lack of appropria tion concerning irregular words impacted her instruction negatively. In seve ral lessons, Kristy instructed students to sound out irregular words. When student s tried to decode the irregula r words, they became frustrated because the words they produced did not make sens e. Kristy was also frustrated because she was unsure how to help them. Kristys reflectiven ess and open acceptance of feedback, however,

PAGE 147

147 simultaneously played a more pos itive role in her learning. Kris ty knew when her lessons were not successful and she readily welcomed any f eedback that would help her improve. In an interview Kristy maintained her lessons were mo re effective when she incorporated feedback from her field supervisor or cooperating t eacher. Anita was organized, systematic, and a dedicated student, attributes that supported her learning, but her inflexibility and rigidity made it difficult for her to adapt to cl assroom changes, often impacting her instruction negatively. For example, during one observation, Anita planned to ask students comprehension questions in a guided reading group. After spending an extensiv e period of time asking questions, the students became less engaged and off task. Instead of changing the activity when students became disengaged, Anita continued with the pre-planne d activity of asking comprehension questions until the students misbehavior escalat ed and the lesson was disrupted. In general, the presence of positive personal attributes, such as reflectiveness, openmindedness, and initiative facilita ted pre-service teach ers learning, whereas a lack of such attributes hindered knowledge appropriation. More over, the presence or absence of certain attributes was not as important as the interactio n of personal attributes with the practicum. This interaction might have been the key to understanding the role of personal attributes on preservice teacher appropri ation of conceptual and practical tools. Personal Concerns and Future Goals In addition to personal attributes, the personal concerns and future goa ls of the pre-service teachers also im pacted their tool appropriation. So me of the pre-service teachers had concerns about their relationship with thei r students. Colleen and Tricia wa nted students to like them and have fun in school. Colleens desire to be li ked by her students seemed to influence her willingness to discipline students. During initial ob servations, Colleen adopted an informal tone with students, often giggling at their misbehaviors rather than correcting them. As a result of

PAGE 148

148 these management issues, Colleen spent more tim e attending to student behavior as opposed to considering how she might deliver effective read ing instruction. Tricias concern centered on making reading instruction enjoyable. Tricia wa s hypercritical of her placement because she did not feel the instruction was fun for students. Although she attested to the power of direct instruction programs like Reading Mastery for stude nts with disabilities, when asked about her future plans for teaching reading, Tricia focused more on her future goal as a general educator and how she would make reading fun for the students in her classroom. For example, she spoke about giving students silent i ndependent reading time with enj oyable books and structuring her reading instruction around a readers workshop model. So, while Tricias instruction improved while using Reading Mastery, it is unclear that her beliefs will support the use of structured instruction in the future. Kristy and Melanie expressed concern over pr oviding students with effective instruction. Kristy talked about wanting to know her st udents instructional needs and giving them instruction with the lightening speed they need. Although Kristy struggled to deliver effective reading instruction, her concerns about providing students with proper instruction fostered a willingness to dedicate extra time in her practicum in order to improve her instruction. Melanie spoke about the importance of givi ng students with disabilities the r ight kind of instruction so they could receive reading inst ruction in the general education classroom eventually. Melanie was open to challenging teaching situations becau se she knew they would help her become a better teacher. She spent extra hou rs learning the letter sounds a nd the proper Reading Mastery procedures so she could deliver intensive reading lessons to students. Melanie and Kristys desire to be special educators and provide students with effective instruction fostered a commitment to improving their teaching.

PAGE 149

149 Nancys perceived inability to assert herself with students and her concerns about her capabilities to handle the behaviors of student s from low income homes colored her image of herself as a teacher for this popul ation. After battling classroom ma nagement issues, with little support to acquire new skills in this area, Nancy felt defeated and inefficacious. Unfortunately, she left her practicum questioning her knowledg e and her teaching skills for teaching all students. Beliefs Pre-service teachers also entered their pr acticum equipped with personal beliefs about special education and reading inst ruction for students with disabilities. The ways in which these beliefs interacted with the practicum experience played a role in how incoming beliefs were substantiated or abandoned. Three pre-service teachers, Colleen, Kristy, a nd Melanie, reported changes in their beliefs as a result of participating in their practicum ex periences. At first, Colleen and Melanie believed the best service delivery model for students with disabilities was a self-contained classroom. However, after seeing how successf ul students could be in inclus ive classrooms that utilized push-in and pull-out models, both pre-service teachers remonstrated their earlier beliefs and instead adopted pro-inclusion beliefs. Before completing her practicum, Kristy believed in a holistic approach to reading instruction. Howeve r, after observing the ne gative influence of a whole language approach on the reading abilities of her students, Kristy abandoned her holistic reading beliefs in favor of explicit, systematic reading instruction. She knew that without such instruction students with di sabilities would struggle. Anitas beliefs were also strengthened as a result of her practicum experience, but in a different way. Anita began her practicum experi ence believing that students with disabilities needed explicit, individualized instruction. Her beliefs were only strengthened when she

PAGE 150

150 observed students with disabilities struggling due to a lack of explicit reading instruction that targeted their individual needs. Anita said I have seen how in the class I was in this semester there was a lot of cooperative reading activities but the actual reading instruction was not as explicit as I feel it should have been. I think [reading instruction] needs to be more explicit, giving more examples, or actually modeling reading tasks before le tting kids go out and try it (12.11.07). Component Concept: Motivation for Know ledge Assimilation In this study, the pre-service teachers had varying motivations for assimilating knowledge, with some motivations leading to higher levels of appropriation. Based on statements made during interviews, the pre-service teachers motivations could be categorized as either extrinsic or intrinsic. The pre-service teachers intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for learning stemmed from all three activity systems. In gene ral, when pre-service teachers had intrinsic reasons for assimilating knowledge, they reached higher levels of tool appropriation. Below are descriptions of how the pre-serv ice teachers extrinsic and intrin sic motivations were influenced by the activity systems and how these motivations interacted with the other component concepts in the grounded theory. Accountability measures in place at the university and the practicum, such as exams, course assignments, and teaching opportunities, provided pre-service teac hers with motivation for assimilating knowledge. In the case of the university, the pre-servi ce teachers motivations stemmed from course requirements, motivations that were fueled by the extrinsic reward of earning a passing grade in the course. As a resu lt, Colleen, Kristy, and Melanie learned phonics to earn a good grade in their Emergent Literacy course, but they were not motivated to draw on this knowledge because they did no t see how it was useful. It was not until they were responsible for reading instruction in their practicum experiences that they developed more intrinsic reasons for assimilating phonics knowledge. In an interview, Colleen said, it took me a while to realize

PAGE 151

151 [learning phonics] was important. No w in my practicum I think what does /x/ say? Did I say it right (10.11.07)? Kristy said, I want to be able to [teach reading] with the lightening speed [students] need I dont want to be standing up there thinking and c onfused (10.19.07). Once Colleen, Kristy, and Melanie were motivated to learn information, even when it was not a course requirement, they valued their coursework conten t more, spent more time trying to learn it, and began to understand it on conceptual levels. In addition to university and practicum in fluences, individual experiences impacted participants motivations to appropriate tools. An ita, Colleen, and Nancy all had family and prior experiences that fostered a desire to become special educators. Colleen and Nancy both had siblings with disabilities. Witnessing their brothe rs struggles in school, es pecially struggles that were heightened by teachers inability to meet their brothers needs fostered Colleen and Nancys desire to be effective special edu cators. For Colleen, an encouraging placement intensified her commitment to the field of special education, but for Nancy, a discouraging placement squelched her confidence to be a teacher, much less a special educator. Anita did not have a sibling with a di sability but she did have a mother who successfully included students in her classroom. Seeing the success students with disabilities experien ced in her mothers classroom fostered Anitas drive to help students with disabilities. So when met with a less than successful practicum placement Anita only became stronger in her resolve to be a quality special educator. For Tricia, individual influences played out differently. Tricia was motivated by both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Tricia chose special education as a major because of the possibility of earning more money, but money was not her only motivation. She believed knowledge of special education techniques would improve her sk ill as a general educator.

PAGE 152

152 According to Tricia, special education sparked my interest because it was a way to gain more knowledge to help every learner (9.11.07). Although Tricia professe d a desire to learn reading strategies to help all learners, she seemed more motivated to make reading instruction fun when she had her own classroom. She di d not acknowledge in interviews how she must continue to use explicit, systematic instruction as it was in the be st interest of her student s. Tricia was motivated to assimilate conceptual and prac tical tools associated with reading instruction for students with disabilities because she had little to no choice in delivering other techniques in her practicum. Although Tricia had some of the highest scores on the RISE and observation and interview evidence revealed she ap propriated tools about r eading instruction and behavior management to higher levels, it is uncertain whether she will ever reach the level of mastery in appropriating explicit, systematic instructional tools. Instead, she may choose to focus exclusively on implementing instruction that students find fun. Component Concept: Access to Knowledge The final component that affected the pre-service teachers appropriation of conceptual and practical tools was access. Without access to tools, the pre-service teachers could not appropriate them. Like motivation to assimila te knowledge, access to knowledge is another component concept that was influenced by all thr ee activity systems. Some pre-service teachers had prior experiences that provided them with access to knowledge. Other pre-service teachers had cooperating teachers who had extensive knowl edge of special education, serving as a valuable source of knowledge. Finally, some pre-service teachers reported having reading methods courses and field supervisors that helped them acquire knowledge. The individual activity system influenced pre-service teachers knowledge access, but it did so in limited ways. None of the partic ipants reported having ex tensive early reading memories. All of the pre-service teachers described how surprised they were when they realized

PAGE 153

153 learning to read and teaching students to read is hard. Colleen best summarized the group sentiment when she said, Most of us in colleg e probably learned to r ead [easily]. You would have no idea how many kids didnt [have an easy time]. I had no clue, I ju st thought reading was a natural process and that ever yone learns to read (12.05.07). Similarly, with the exception of Anita, none of the pre-service teachers spoke about extensive prior experiences with special educat ion. Colleen, Melanie, an d Tricia all attended K12 schools that utilized self-contained service delive ry models, thus they did not witness special education students being included in general education classroo ms, nor did they observe any accommodations or individualized instruction. As a result, they relied heavily on reading methods courses, special education courses, fi eld experiences, and prac ticum placements for their special edu cation knowledge. As stated before, an important influence of the practicum was the cooperating teacher. Cooperating teachers who had extensive knowledge of special education reading instruction served as greater sources of access for pre-se rvice teachers compared to cooperating teachers who had limited knowledge of th ese topics. In some practicum placements, other school personnel also served as sour ces of knowledge. Colleen, for example, appropriated several accommodations for students with disabilities from observing a general education teacher. Various curricula provided access to knowledge unique to special education. From their use of Reading Mastery, Colleen, Melani e, and Tricia appropriated c onceptual and practical tools related to special education r eading instruction, particularly modeling, plentiful opportunities for students to respond, extensive guided practice, and specific feedback. All pre-service teachers ha d access to knowledge from the university, though sources of this knowledge varied. The field supervisor was vi ewed positively across the six participants. All

PAGE 154

154 the pre-service teachers reported that feedback provided by field supervisor s was a useful source of knowledge, even though the us ability of this feedback va ried. Nancy and Tricia both experienced barriers to implementing field s upervisors feedback because of practicum experiences. For Nancy, a challenging classroom management setting and limited opportunities to teach presented barriers, and for Tricia the inflexibility of her cooperating teacher constrained opportunities to interject new ideas into instruction. Kristy, however, experienced a different situation. Kristys practicum provided her freedom to incorporate feedback. Moreover, Kristys open-mindedness and desire to improve meant she sought feedback as often as possible and was amenable to constructive criticism. This feedback was particularly im portant because Kristy, who often struggled to provide students with clear, intensive reading instruction, stated she experienced greater success when she integrated th e field supervisors feedback into her lessons. Participants consistently viewed UFLI tr aining as a positive so urce of knowledge yet, they sometimes did not experience its full benefi ts due to time constraints. Tricia and Nancy explained that their UFLI tutoring times conflic ted with other elements of their practicum experiences. Tricias UFLI tutoring time was s andwiched between two reading groups in her practicum, thus she always felt rushed to be where she was needed. The result was that Tricia did not have time to reflect on her UFLI instructi on before she had to hurry to meet her reading groups. Nancys tutoring time occurred during Mrs. Nells planning time, therefore, Nancy missed opportunities to plan with Mrs. Nell and receive feedback on he r instruction in the practicum. The two pre-service teachers who reported the most posi tive experiences with UFLI tutoring also reported having prac ticum experiences that facilitated their implementation of strategies acquired during tutori ng. Colleen and Kristy both had time to implement UFLI tutoring

PAGE 155

155 while attending to other practicum teaching resp onsibilities. Colleen felt her UFLI tutoring provided additional exposure to phonics knowle dge and enabled her to make instructional decisions for her tutee. For Kristy, the UFLI tutoring was helpful because its structure and consistency facilitated her enactment of begi nning reading instructi on in the classroom. Specific courses, as well as instructors assi gned to those courses influenced pre-service teachers access to strategies and ideas in both positive and negative ways. Colleen, Melanie, and Nancy perceived their literacy coursework negati vely. Nancy said she felt overwhelmed after finishing Emergent Literacy because so much content was covered. For Nancy, her feelings of being overwhelmed were exacerbated by her negative practicum experience, where she had few opportunities to appropriate knowledg e from the Emergent Literacy course. Colleen and Melanie also felt they gained littler from their cour sework, but gave different reasons for their unsatisfactory experiences. They thought their Em ergent Literacy course was disorganized and did not provide sufficient justific ation for learning phonics. Going fu rther, Melanie stated, I felt I got a major disservice because I did not learn that much about reading (9.12.07). Colleen and Melanie felt that the information acquired in th e Emergent Literacy course would have faded from memory if they did not have a practicum that helped them draw upon this knowledge to teach students with disabilities. Comparatively, Anita, Kristy, a nd Tricia all expressed gratit ude for their reading methods coursework. For Tricia, her Emergent Literacy course was especially beneficial because of Instructor As caring personality. Tricia also li ked her Intermediate Reading class and described how she used many of the strategies from this course in a prior field experience. Tricia desperately wanted to implement her Emergent Literacy knowledge but experienced barriers when placed in an inflexible practicum. Sim ilarly, Anita and Kristy spoke about feeling

PAGE 156

156 frustrated when they could not appropriate their reading coursework knowledge in their practicum experiences. Thus, the pr e-service teachers perceptions of their university courses and course instructors interacted with their opportunities to appropriate knowledge, affecting the extent to which they appropriated conceptual and practical tools. Summary The grounded theory presented in this chapte r emerged after the researcher completed a cross-case analysis of six special education preservice teachers provid ing reading instruction during a practicum placement. The three activity systems (ie. individual, university, and practicum) influenced the core concept and component concepts. Opportunities to appropriate knowledge in prac tice emerged as the core concept, and its reciprocal relationship with the three component concepts (a) personal qu alities, (b) motivation for knowledge assimilation, and (c) access to knowledge seemed to play a role in the levels to which pre-service teachers appropriated conceptual and practical tools. Although the core concept and component conc epts all influenced what pre-service teachers did in the classroom or how they cons tructed knowledge, the exte nt of their influence and direction of the influence vari ed across participants. In the best case, the concepts worked in positive ways, thus facilitating pre-service teachers tool appropriation and knowledge acquisition. In this instance the in teraction of positive personal attributes, a future goal as a special educator, and a supportiv e special education practicum experience with plentiful opportunities to appropriat e explicit, systematic reading knowledge in pr actice facilitated tool appropriation. In the worst case, the concepts worked in negative ways, thus hindering preservice teachers appropria tion of conceptual and practical tools. In this case, the interaction of personal qualities with a general education practicum experien ce that afforded few opportunities

PAGE 157

157 to appropriate explicit, systematic readi ng instruction hindered pre-service teachers appropriation of read ing tools for students with disabilities.

PAGE 158

158 Table 5-1. Influences on appropriation of conceptu al and practical tools Activity systems Influences The individual Prior experiences Family characteristics Prior beliefs Personal attributes or dispositions Cultural background The university Course instructors Reading coursework Assessment coursework Behavior management coursework UFLI training Field supervisors The practicum Grade level Service delivery model Cooperating teacher knowledge Cooperating teacher feedback Instructional freedom Opportunities to teach Students cultural & economic background Classroom management Other school personnel Students disability Curriculum

PAGE 159

159 Figure 5-1. Pre-service teacher appropriation of conceptu al and practical tools. Influence of the Individual Examples: personal attributes, prior experiences, family characteristics Influence of University Examples: UFLI, field supervisors, coursework Influence of Practicum Examples: cooperating teacher, service delivery model, instructional freedom Personal Qualities Motivation for Knowledge Assimilation Access to Knowledge Opportunities to Appropriate Knowledge in practice

PAGE 160

160 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS The purpose of this chapter is to report how the findings fr om the current study support the existing literature and how they extend it. Also included in this chapter are implications for the research community, teacher educators, and school-based personnel concerning special education teacher preparation. Discussion This study and findings generated support schola rs claims that res earch elucidating the complexities of teacher education is important (Zeichner, 2005; Zeichner & Conklin, 2005). The findings from this study confirm prior studies of teacher preparation that found great variability within preparation programs at the level of the individual preservice teacher (Boyd et al., 2006; Humphrey & Wechsler, 2005; Kennedy, 1991; Weng linsky, 2000). Although all six pre-service teachers completed the same preparation program, dramatic differences between participants and within the program itself led to vastly different outcomes across the six pre-service teachers. In this study, teacher preparation made a difference for all of the participants, but the ways in which it mattered varied and cannot be reduced to a si mple equation, thus corroborating assertions made by Boyd et al. (2006) and Humphrey and W echsler (2005) who surmis ed that participants experience programs differently. Although a plethora of individua l influences emerged from this study, four appeared to be most significant (a) opportunities to appropriate knowledge in pract ice, (b) personal qualities, (c) motivation for knowledge assimilation, (d) access to knowledge. In fact, interactions of these four influences had the most explanatory power when it came to understanding how activity systems impacted per-service teach er appropriation of conceptual and practical tools. In this section, findings are discussed in light of previous literature.

PAGE 161

161 Opportunities to Appropriat e Know ledge in Practice First, participants in this study, includi ng the pre-service teac hers, their cooperating teachers, field supervisors, and reading methods course instructors all atte sted to the importance of opportunities to appropriate knowledge in prac tice. When pre-service teachers had successful practical opportunities to appropr iate their knowledge, they felt mo re confident and prepared to teach students. They also reported their reading knowledge was most influenced by practical teaching experiences. For example, the pre-servi ce teachers in this study benefited from tutoring struggling readers using the UFLI program. The pa rticipants described how UFLI training helped them understand the reading process, address students reading struggles, and implement practical tools related to begi nning reading instruction. These findings are supported in prior research demonstrating pre-serv ice teachers need opportunities to apply knowledge in practical settings such as tutoring e xperiences (Duffy and Atkinson, 2001; Fang & Ashley, 2004; IRA, 2003; Linek et al., 1999). One reason why pre-service teachers in this st udy valued practicum experiences and field experiences is that they acqui red practical tools. This findi ng is not surprising given what Grossman et al. (2000) learned when they follo wed pre-service teachers into their first three years of teaching. Grossman and her colleagues found that beginning teac hers needed access to concrete teaching strategies. Without such strate gies, teachers had difficulty turning conceptual tools into practical ones. The practicum emerged as a key factor in preservice teacher learning, but the results from this study shed light on important differences be tween practicum experien ces. For example, not all practicum experiences provided pre-serv ice teachers with positive opportunities to appropriate their reading knowledge in a safe and productive environment. In other words, participating in a practicum experience did not always translate into a positive learning

PAGE 162

162 experience for pre-service teacher s. Several factors determined the quality of the practicum. First, poorly structured and unfocused practic um experiences caused stress for pre-service teachers and limited their opportunities to appropri ate knowledge in practi ce. Second, qualities of the cooperating teacher influenced the success of a practicum experience. Cooperating teachers who were knowledgeable about special education in fluenced the pre-servi ce teachers in positive ways. These knowledgeable cooperating teachers pr ovided pre-service teac hers with specific feedback about knowledge and st rategies related to reading instruction for students with disabilities. The literature review conducted by Wilson et al. (2001), confirmed these findings. These authors surmised that the best placements are well structured and aligned with university coursework. Additionally, the results of this li terature review documented that cooperating teachers have a significant impact on the quality of a field placement. Personal Qualities Findings from this study indicated that several personal qualities made a difference in how pre-service teachers appropriated tools. Firs t, personal attributes worked in positive and negative ways to influence tool appropriation. One personal attri bute influencing the pre-service teachers was their propensity to be reflective. Preservice teachers who were especially reflective spent time thinking about their instruction in rela tion to their students needs. Other researchers found that pre-service teachers open disposition and tendency to engage in reflection explained their success in field placem ents (Garmon, 2004; Richards & Morse, 2002). Specifically, preservice teachers in these studies were skilled in providing students with di fferentiated instruction. In addition to reflection, self-efficacy emerge d as an influential personal attribute. The majority of pre-service teachers in this study entered their practicum uncertain of their ability to help struggling readers and students with disabi lities. Successful opportu nities to appropriate their knowledge in practice, le d to higher levels of self -efficacy, whereas, unsuccessful

PAGE 163

163 opportunities reduced pre-service teachers sens e of self-efficacy. These findings partially support research by Hoy and Woolfolk (1990) that demonstrated pre-service teachers efficacy increases in some ways but decreases in others These researchers found th at pre-service teachers who completed student teaching were more efficaci ous in their ability to motivate students, but they were less confident in their ability to overcome challenges students from difficult backgrounds presented. To understand the developmen t of efficacy in beginning teachers fully, more research is needed. Other important attributes that emerged in this study included dedication, initiative, and open-mindedness. These and other attributes have been previously supported in the literature. Lessen and Frankiewicz (1992) cond ucted a literature review on attributes of effective special educators and pre-service teachers. They found su ccessful special education pre-service teachers were relentless, aware, alert, and action orient ed. These authors also found that empathetic, warm, and enthusiastic teachers had a positive impact on student gains. In addition to personal attributes, future goals and personal con cerns of pre-service teachers impacted how they appropriated tools. As in previous studies pre-service teachers reasons for entering the profession emerged as im portant influences. In this study, pre-service teachers evaluated incoming knowle dge in relation to their future goals as either general educators or special educators. For example, Tr icia did not feel lear ning a scripted reading program was helpful to her future goal as a gene ral educator. Melanie who wanted to be a special educator, however, valued learning how to deliver explicit intensive phonics instruction because she knew she would be teaching struggling reader s and students with disabilities. Similarly, Grossman and her colleagues (1999) found that pr e-service teachers plac ed varied emphasis on

PAGE 164

164 knowledge acquired from literacy coursework de pending on how this knowledge aligned with their future goals. Pre-service teachers concerns about a variety of issues such as behavior management and student achievement also impacted their appr opriation of practical and conceptual tools. Although all participants in this study had concerns, the nature of those concerns differed. Colleen and Tricia, were particular ly concerned with their relations hips with their students. They placed a heavy emphasis on making learning f un and being liked by students. Nancy felt concerned about her teaching abilit ies, particularly her ability to manage student behaviors. Two participants, Melanie and Kristy, were concerne d about their abilities to deliver effective instruction to students. Such concerns have b een documented widely in the teacher education literature. Several research t eams found that pre-service teac hers are concerned about their relationships with students, their abilities to ma intain student discipline, and their abilities to teach (Berliner, 1988; Brookhart & Freeman, 1992; Fuller, 1969; Kagan, 1992; Pigge & Marso, 1986, 1987, 1990). Finally, pre-service teachers beliefs impacted their appropr iation of tools. Pre-service teachers in this study had strong be liefs that often acted as filt ers through which they evaluated practicum experiences. For example, Anita and Kristy evaluated reading instruction they observed in their practicum expe rience in relation to their own beliefs about how students with disabilities should be taught. Anita believed st udents with disabilities should receive individualized instruction gauged to meet their needs. Anitas beliefs were strengthened when she observed students with disabilities struggle fr om a lack of such instruction. Kristy, on the other hand, believed in a holistic, literature-based approach to reading. Her beliefs changed, however, when she witnessed str uggling readers fall further behind from a lack of intensive,

PAGE 165

165 systematic, and explicit instruction. Hence, inter actions between individual pre-service teachers and their practicum experiences seemed to explain why some pre-service teachers beliefs changed while others did not. This finding partially supports existing resear ch that investigates the conditions under which teacher beliefs change. Extant research has sh own that a variety of variables influence teacher candidates belief s including (a) candidates propensity toward reflection, (b) the nature of cooperating teacher a nd field supervisor feedback, (c) the extent to which candidates observed classroom instruction without receiving correc tive feedback, and (d) the extent to which preparation programs encour aged teacher candidates to examine their beliefs (Hoy & Woolfolk, 1990; Kagan, 1992; Munby, 1982; Pajares, 1992; Richardson, 1996; Richardson & Placier, 2001). Motivation for Knowledge Assimilation In this study, it seems that motivation for knowledge assim ilation operated in different ways. One set of motivational beliefs influen ced participants reasons for becoming special educators. Several pre-service teachers were driven by their intrinsic motivation to help all students and in particular, students with disa bilities. A second set of motivational beliefs influenced what pre-service teachers learned. For example, Colleen and Melanie exhibited no motivation to develop a deep working knowledge of phonics during their Emergent Literacy course, possibly because they did not see the relevance of learning such information. Upon entering their practicum placements, however, Coll een and Melanie became more motivated to appropriate literacy tools from their coursework because they saw the necessity of such tools when trying to provide explicit, systematic phoni cs instruction to students with disabilities. These findings align with Brophys (1999) mode l of motivation for accomplishing tasks in education. Under this model, lear ners are motivated to learn wh en they perceive tasks are

PAGE 166

166 neither too easy or too hard (Brophy, 1999, p. 77) a nd when they perceive tasks as relevant and valuable. Access to Knowledge Pre-service teachers access to useable knowle dge em erged as an important influence on their learning. Coursework cont ent, and perhaps more importan tly course instructors, were sources of knowledge. After interviewing the read ing methods course instructors and reviewing the course syllabi, it was clear that the PROTEACH reading methods courses were designed to deepen pedagogical content knowledge. For exampl e, the Emergent Literacy course taught preservice teachers the five components of read ing, including ways to teach them to children. Similarly, other researchers have found that effective preparation programs and coursework are designed to deepen pedagogical content know ledge (Darling-Hammond, 2000; National Center for Research on Teacher Learning, 1991). When pr e-service teachers had access to coursework content that provided them with pr actical tools that they perceive d as useful, they valued that knowledge more and showed a proclivity towards appropriating it in th eir practicum. Some students rejected phonics knowledge because they did not like it or see the value in it. The quality of course instruct or also seemed to be an im portant factor in pre-service teachers perceptions of coursework content. Pre-service teachers who had skilled organized course instructors valued their coursework more than pre-service teacher s who felt their course instructors were disorganized and unclear. This finding some what supports social science research that links undergraduates course ev aluations with their perceptions of course instructors. The social science research indicated that course instructors: (a) teaching style, either lenient or strict, (b) likeability, (c) rappor t with students, (d) organization, and (e) grading practices affected students overa ll perceptions of the course (Beran & Violato, 2005; Jirovec, Ramanathan, & Alvarez, 1998; Smith & Anderson, 2005).

PAGE 167

167 Limitations As discussed in chapter 1, there are se veral aspects of the study that limit the generalizability and interpretation of the findings. First, the participants in this study attended a Research Intensive university with high academ ic standards and the schools in which they completed their practicum experiences were located in a mid-size school dist rict in north Central Florida, thus the findings cannot be generalized to the larger popul ation of special education preservice teachers. Furthermore, the pre-service teachers in th e study worked with elementary students with mild disabilities, therefore these findings may not apply to pre-service teachers who worked with secondary students or students with more severe disabilities. Finally, the participants were chosen based on selection crit eria and their willingness to participate in the study. With a limited sample size, it was inevitab le that some pre-service teachers would be excluded from the study. Second, the study did not follow the pre-se rvice teachers beyond one semester of coursework and practicum. The data, therefore, only provided glimpses into the pre-service teachers appropriation of tools over a limited amount of time. It is unclear whether these findings will remain accurate once the pre-servi ce teachers enter into full time teaching positions. Furthermore, the studys limited time frame makes it difficult to understand fully the bidirectional relationship between the core c oncept and component concepts. For example, opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practi ce during the practicum may influence preservice teachers future motivations for knowledge assimilation, but without following preservice teachers beyond one semester, it is difficult to know for certain. Last, it is difficult to assess how pre-servic e teachers appropriate tools, particularly conceptual ones. When used collectively, proxie s such as the prior beliefs and experiences survey, observation field notes, and concept maps s eemed to capture an accurate picture of the

PAGE 168

168 participants appropriation, but a ny potential problems with thes e proxies could influence the interpretation of the findings. Despite these limitations, the findings from this study offer information for preparing special education teachers and conduc ting research on this population. Implications Findings from this study indicate that spec ial education pre-service teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tool s related to reading is depende nt on interactions between the individual and the social context activity system s. More specifically, it was the interaction of four concepts (a) opportunities to appropriate kno wledge in practice, (b) personal qualities, (c) motivation for knowledge assimilation, and (d) access to knowledge that mediated the preservice teachers appropri ation of pedagogical tools. These findings have implications for future practice and research in special education. Implications for Future Research in Special Education Teacher Preparation The results of this study s uggest that activity theory might be a viable framework for future investigations in special education teach er education. Activity theory not only accounts for various influences on teacher lear ning, but it also sheds light on w hy teachers appropriate tools at different levels. It is a model that examines learning from soci al and individual levels, thus considering the myriad of complexities that characterize a special education context. Should special education teacher educators chose to use activity theory to frame future studies, they will need to pay close attention to influences like service delivery model, di sability, curriculum, and cooperating teacher knowledge of special education. While thes e factors might not wield as much influence in studies of general education pre-service teachers, they are significant for special educators. Though the grounded theory methods used in this study produced an explanatory model of special education pre-service teacher appropriation of conceptual and practical tools, the

PAGE 169

169 employment of other research designs would paint a more complete picture of pre-service teacher learning. Social constructionist methods would offer a comprehensive understanding of how pre-service teachers and their course instruct ors, field supervisors, and cooperating teachers construct knowledge jointly. Discourse analysis methods could provide information about the types of dialogue in teacher educ ation that impact the appropria tion of pedagogical tools. Largescale experimental and quasi-experimental st udies could explain the effects of various preparation experiences on pre-serv ice teachers appropriation of t ools. Finally, studies of special education pre-service teachers w ho work with secondary students or students with more severe disabilities would reveal additional influe nces that researchers should consider. Finally, the current study inve stigated outcomes related to special education pre-service teacher appropriation of tools, but this is onl y one of many potential te acher education outcomes in need of attention. As argued by Cochran-Sm ith (2001), one important outcome of teacher education is long-term impact, which has to do w ith the effects of teacher education over time. Specifically, long-term impact examines pre-serv ice teachers practice upon entering the field and the achievement of their students. Relating the findings of the curr ent study to assertions made by Cochran-Smith leads to several unanswered questions. At the most basic level, what are the long-term impacts of teacher education? Is th ere evidence that teacher education continues to influence teachers once they exit preparation programs? Will the four concepts that emerged in this study continue to influence teachers appr opriation of tools once they become teachers of record? If so, in what ways? As teachers of record are there other influences that play a role in the appropriation of tools? What are the long-term effects of pe rsonal qualities on teachers? For example, will pre-service teachers who are natura lly reflective have an easier time appropriating tools in the future? Once pre-se rvice teachers are responsible fo r students achievement on high

PAGE 170

170 stakes tests, will their motivation for knowledge assimilation be affected? Finally, how does the appropriation of conceptual and practical tools during preparation impact student achievement? Implications for Special Education Teacher P reparation a nd Current Practice in Schools The findings generated from this study high light several aspects of special education teacher preparation that are important for teach er educators to consider as they prepare prospective teachers. First, as has been found in previous studies, pre-service teachers entered the PROTEACH program with little existing knowledge or experi ences concerning special education or students with disabilitie s (Green & Weaver, 1992; Puga ch, 2005; Terrill & Mark, 2000). While general education pre-se rvice teachers may have extensive background knowledge about teaching and learning for general education stude nts, special education pre-service teachers prior knowledge about special education will most likely be limited. Moreover, the findings from this study showed that special education pre-se rvice teachers incoming beliefs are formulated based on their K-12 schooling experiences, which pr edated large-scale inclusion models. Several of the pre-service teachers ente red their practicum experiences supporting the use of selfcontained service delivery models, as was used in their K-12 schools. Special education teacher educators should be aware that a practicum experi ence that revealed the benefits of inclusive models seemed to sway the pre-service teachers beliefs in favor of inclusive practices. This finding supports research on genera l educators beliefs and attit udes about inclusion (Giangreco, Dennis, Cloninger, Edelman, & Schattman, 1993; Minke, Bear, Deemer, & Griffin, 1996; McLeskey, Waldron, So, Swanson, & Loveland, 2001; Waldron, McLeskey, & Pacciano, 1999). These researchers found that gene ral educators held favorable be liefs about inclusive practices after having direct, sustained contac t with students with disabilities. Second, it seems experiences pre-service teach ers value most are practical because they acquire practical tools. The UFLI training and tutoring component was particularly helpful for

PAGE 171

171 the special education pre-serv ice teachers. As has been f ound in the literature, tutoring experiences that provide pre-serv ice teachers with opportunities to work with struggling readers are particularly meaningful a nd beneficial (Duffy & Atkinson, 2001; Nierstheimer, Hopkins, & Dillon, 2000). The participants in this study valued the opportunity UFLI gave them to make instructional decisions for strugg ling readers. Moreover, they appr eciated a structured context in which to apply their beginning reading conceptual and practical tools. These results indicate teacher educators need to pay car eful attention to the structure and quality of practical teaching experiences, (ie. practicum placements), as they are the predominant vehicles for appropriating tools. Teacher educators are cautioned, however, about the inherent dang ers of pre-service teachers applying pedagogical t ools without possessing a conceptu al understanding behind their use. For example, as was described in Chapter 4, Kristys lack conceptual knowledge regarding Elkonin boxes resulted in her using them inappropr iately. Grossman et al. (1999) also found that pre-service teachers implemented pedagogical tools incorrectly when they lacked a deep working knowledge of the underlying concepts behind such tools. The importance of practical teaching experi ences raises many questions concerning the proliferation of alternative route (AR) programs. Pre-service te achers enrolled in AR programs typically assume full-time teaching positions while taking education coursework. While this provides AR teachers with plenti ful opportunities to appropriate know ledge in practice, are these opportunities facilitating higher levels of appropriation? Ar e AR teachers receiving enough coursework and mentoring to help them deve lop conceptual understandings of tools? Furthermore, what are the imp lications of alternative route teachers trying to appropriate conceptual and practical tools while simulta neously being held responsible for student achievement?

PAGE 172

172 Third, teacher educators should attend to practicum placement characteristics that influence pre-service teacher learning, such as how educational servic es were delivered to students and the types of curricula used. Pre-service teachers pl aced in practicum experiences that utilized inclusive classroom s in conjunction with push-in or pull-out models reported feeling the most confident to teach reading to students with disabilities and observation data confirmed they were most capable of appropriating tools re lated to special education reading instruction. Pre-service teachers placed in inclusive classrooms without push-in or pull-out models, or classrooms lacking collaboration between genera l education and special education teachers, however, did not observe differentiated inst ruction or accommodations for students with disabilities. In these placements reading instruction was uniform across all students, thus preservice teachers did not feel prepared to teach re ading to students with disabilities. Additionally, observation data and RISE scores indicated thei r difficulty appropriating reading tools. When it comes to designing special education preparation programs, theref ore, teacher educators would be wise to seek practicum placements that utilize a variety of service delivery models. In this study, placements employing resource rooms or pus h-in pull-out models all used the direct instruction Reading Mastery curr iculum. This curriculum appeared to facilitate participants appropriation of reading tools as well as their delivery of intensive, explicit, and systematic reading instruction. It seems the built in routines and management strategies associated with Reading Mastery allowed pre-se rvice teachers to focus on reading instruction rather than behavior management. Furthermore, Reading Ma stery prompted pre-serv ice teachers to use effective general instruc tional strategies such as scaffoldi ng, specific feedback, and guided and independent practice. Thus, special education teacher educators might want to provide training in curricula such as Reading Mastery before pre-service teachers engage in student teaching.

PAGE 173

173 Finally, teacher educators should keep in mind cooperating teachers influence on preservice teachers practic e. In the general education literat ure, Wilson, Floden, and Ferrini-Mundy (2001), also determined cooperating teachers play a powerful role in pre-service teacher learning. The results of this study ex tend the general education literature by hi ghlighting cooperating teachers qualities that mattered for special education pre-service teachers. For example, special education pre-service teachers benefited from cooperating teachers who had knowledge of special education and intensive, explicit read ing instruction. Special education pre-service teachers also profited from coopera ting teachers who offered feedb ack about the particular needs of students with disabilities, including specifi c behavioral and academic needs. In essence, cooperating teachers who were knowledgeable a bout special educati on and students with disabilities filled in perceived gaps in university coursework. The evidence from this study indicates tw o important ideas teach er educators should consider when crafting special education preparation programs. First, it seems critical to provide pre-service teachers with in-depth classroom teaching experiences throughout their program rather than during the final semesters. Participants in this study all contended that practical teaching opportunities were criti cal to their learning. When pr ovided an opportunity to apply coursework knowledge in practice, pre-service te achers seemed to develo p a deeper appreciation of course content. Scheduling reading methods courses in conjunction wi th practical teaching experiences might facilitate pre-service teachers appropriation of tools because they would have immediate opportunities to apply their knowledge in practice. Si milarly, the positive impact of systematic, intensive tutoring progra ms such as UFLI lends credence to the incorporation of such experiences in special educati on teacher preparation programs. Of course providing special education pre-service teachers with opportunities to apply their knowledge in practical settings

PAGE 174

174 throughout their preparation program is not easi ly achieved given the limited number of quality classroom placements. Moreover, quality coopera ting teachers with specialized knowledge of reading and special education are even harder to find. Providing potenti al cooperating teachers with training on how to be effective mentors to pre-service teachers is one way to increase the number of quality placements. Technological advan ces could offer additional solutions. With the advent of cyber-coaching, pre-service teachers can receive feedback from university personnel despite being separated by long distances. Specia l education pre-service teachers, therefore, could receive special education knowledge and strategies even if they are paired with cooperating teachers who lack knowle dge about special education and students with disabilities. Second, this study revealed the role course instructors play in pre-service teacher learning. Particularly for reading methods courses, the findings indicate instructors who have extensive knowledge of reading, who are skil led teachers, and who can develop positive interpersonal relationships with pre-service teac hers will have the most impact on pre-service teachers perceptions of course content. Teacher educators, therefore, may want to pay close attention to personnel who are assigned to teach these courses. In some instances, course instructors who are not as expe rienced or knowledgeable may need training or extra support. This studys findings also raised questions about the role local schools should play in teacher preparation. Several pre-service teachers in this study did not feel confident to teach students with disabilities, nor did they seem to appropriate tools to advanced levels. What will happen to these teachers once they graduate and enter classrooms as teachers of record? It appears that if pre-servic e teachers are not prepared to teach r eading or work with students with disabilities, schools will then take on the responsibility of prov iding such preparation. Is this possible for local school district s? If so, who in the schools s hould be responsible for helping

PAGE 175

175 novice special education teachers hone their concep tual and practical tools for teaching reading to students with disabilities? Results from this study suggest some answer s to the aforementioned questions. It seems imperative that institutes of hi gher education (IHE) form collabor ative relationships with local education agencies (LEA) so that the transition from pre-service preparation to full-time teaching is as seamless as possible. Additionally, there seem to be some practices that could be implemented at the school level to help support beginning special educators. Providing beginning special education teachers with training in a structured curriculum could help facilitate their reading instruction and classroom manageme nt. Additionally, providi ng beginning teachers with a mentor who is knowledgeable about explic it, systematic reading instruction could help novice teachers sharpen their reading instru ction for students with disabilities. Conclusion This study contributes to em pirical research designed to understand conditions under which teacher education makes a difference in sp ecial education pre-service teacher learning. In doing so, it bridges separa te lines of inquiry in general e ducation and special education through the use of activity theory applie d in a special education research context. This is important because, though similar on the surface, general e ducation research findings are not necessarily applicable to special education questions. In other words, speci al education researchers cannot assume that findings from the general education literature will be the sa me once situated in a special education context. The results indicate that the impact of teach er education varies by individual. Pre-service teachers experience prep aration programs differently as a result of interactions among their opportunities to approp riate knowledge in practice, their personal qualities, their motivation for knowledge assi milation, and their access to knowledge. The complex interactions that emerged in this st udy show that research in teacher preparation,

PAGE 176

176 particularly in the context of special educati on, must capture these complexities if we hope to develop a deep understanding of the role prepar ation plays in pre-service teacher learning.

PAGE 177

177 APPENDIX A PRIOR BELIEFS AND EXPERIENCES SURVEY 1. Describe your K-12 schooling experiences (w ha t type of schools you attended, other students in your classes, types of teachers etc.) 2. Describe any experiences you have had teaching children how to read. 3. Describe any experiences you have had working with students with disabilities. 4. What are your beliefs about how best to teach students with learning disabilities how to read? Please complete a concept map about reading in struction. In the space around the circle, please list as many ideas that come to mind when you think about reading instruction reading instruction

PAGE 178

178 APPENDIX B INFORMED CONSENT LETTERS Informed C onsent Dear ProTeach Special Education Pre-service Teachers, My name is Melinda Leko, and I am a doctoral stude nt in the Department of Special Education at the University of Florida, conducting an inde pendent study on the know ledge and experiences preservice teachers draw from during their inte rnship experience. I am conducting this study under the supervision of Dr. Mary T. Brownell. The purpose of this study is to examine the knowledge and experiences preservi ce teachers draw from during their internship experience. Based on the results of this study, teacher edu cators will gain insights into how preservice students construct their knowledge about teaching reading. The results could help inform the ways teacher educators structure their reading courses. With your permission, I would like to invite you to participate in this research study. If you agree to participate, I will be conducting four videotap ed observations during your Fall 2007 internship experience. During my observations, I will be using a classroom observation tool and taking notes on your reading instruction prac tices. Also, I would like to interview you four times throughout the Fall 2007 semester about yo ur beliefs and experiences concerning your program of study. During the inte rviews, I would like to talk with you about your program plan and past courses. The interviews will last no longer than 60 minutes, and will be outside of your course meeting times at your convenience. You ar e not required to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable. With your permissi on, I would like to audi otape the interviews. Only I will have access to the tapes, which I will personally transcribe, removing any identifiers during transcription. The tapes will be safely stored at my office cabinet until this study finishes, and then will be destroyed. I would like to ask you to complete a knowledge of reading assessment at the beginning and end of the stud y. The knowledge of reading assessment will last no longer than 60 minutes. Finally, I would like you to complete a prior experiences survey at the beginning of the study. The pr ior experiences survey will last no longer than 20 minutes. All interview, observation, assessment, and survey da ta will remain confidential to the extent provided by law and your identity will not be revealed in any oral or written report of this study. In order to respect the rights of participants, re sults of the study will not be available to any course instructors. Your willingness to participate in this study will in no way affect your evaluation in any of your courses or internship experience. You will receive a stipend of $50 for your participation. There will be no risks and se veral benefits for your partic ipation. The observation will not disrupt the learning process duri ng your internship. Potential be nefits include gaining more information about reading instruction for preser vice teachers. Your participation is strictly voluntary. I will be willing to discuss this study with you at any time and will answer any questions. At the completion of the study, I woul d like to discuss the findings with you. You have the right to withdraw consent for your pa rticipation at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research pr otocol, please contact me at the University of Florida, Department of Special Education, G315 Norman Hall, P.O. Box 117050, Gainesville,

PAGE 179

179 FL 32611, (352) 392-0701 ext. 289 or my faculty advi sor, Dr. Mary Brownell, at the University of Florida, Department of Special E ducation, G-315 Norman Hall, P.O. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0701 ext. 249. Ques tions or concerns about your rights as research participant may be dire cted to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. I have read the procedure described above. I vol untarily participate in this study and I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________________________ _________________ Signature of Participant Date _____________________________________________ Print Name

PAGE 180

180 Informed Consent Dear Practicum Cooperating Teacher, My name is Melinda Leko, and I am a doctoral stude nt in the Department of Special Education at the University of Florida, conducting an inde pendent study on the know ledge and experiences preservice teachers draw from during their inte rnship experience. I am conducting this study under the supervision of Dr. Mary T. Brownell. The purpose of this study is to examine the knowledge and experiences preservi ce teachers draw from during their internship experience. Based on the results of this study, teacher edu cators will gain insights into how preservice students construct their knowledge about teaching reading. The results could help inform the ways teacher educators structure their reading courses. With your permission, I would like to invite you to participate in this research study. If you agree to participate, I would like to interview you once during the Spring 2007 semester about your reading course. The interview will last no longer than 60 minutes, and will be outside of your course meeting times at your convenience. You are not required to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable. With your permission, I would like to audiotape the interviews. Only I will have access to the tapes, which I will personally transcribe, removing any identifiers during transcription. The tape will be sa fely stored at my office cabinet until this study finishes, and then will be destroyed. All interv iew data will remain confidential to the extent provided by law and your identity will not be revealed in any oral or written report of this study. You will receive a $25 stipend for your participation. There will be no risks and seve ral benefits for your particip ation. The interview will be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you. Potential benefits include gaining more information about reading instruction for preser vice teachers. Your participation is strictly voluntary. I will be willing to discuss this study with you at any time and will answer any questions. At the completion of the study, I woul d like to discuss the findings with you. You have the right to withdraw consent for your pa rticipation at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research pr otocol, please contact me at the University of Florida, Department of Special Education, G315 Norman Hall, P.O. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0701 ext. 289 or my faculty advi sor, Dr. Mary Brownell, at the University of Florida, Department of Special E ducation, G-315 Norman Hall, P.O. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0701 ext. 249. Ques tions or concerns about your rights as research participant may be dire cted to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. I have read the procedure described above. I vol untarily participate in this study and I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________________________ _________________ Signature of Participant Date _____________________________________________ Print Name

PAGE 181

181 Informed Consent Dear ProTeach Course Instructor, My name is Melinda Leko, and I am a doctoral stude nt in the Department of Special Education at the University of Florida, conducting an inde pendent study on the know ledge and experiences preservice teachers draw from during their inte rnship experience. I am conducting this study under the supervision of Dr. Mary T. Brownell. The purpose of this study is to examine the knowledge and experiences preservi ce teachers draw from during their internship experience. Based on the results of this study, teacher edu cators will gain insights into how preservice students construct their knowledge about teaching reading. The results could help inform the ways teacher educators structure their reading courses. With your permission, I would like to invite you to participate in this research study. If you agree to participate, I would like to interview you once during the Spring 2007 semester about your reading course. The interview will last no longer than 60 minutes, and will be outside of your course meeting times at your convenience. You are not required to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable. With your permission, I would like to audiotape the interviews. Only I will have access to the tapes, which I will personally transcribe, removing any identifiers during transcription. The tape will be sa fely stored at my office cabinet until this study finishes, and then will be dest royed. I would also like to request a copy of the course syllabus that accompanies your reading cour se. All interview and syllabus data will remain confidential to the extent provided by law and your identity will not be revealed in any oral or written report of this study. There is no compensation for participating in this study. There will be no risks and seve ral benefits for your particip ation. The interview will be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you. Potential benefits include gaining more information about reading instruction for preser vice teachers. Your participation is strictly voluntary. I will be willing to discuss this study with you at any time and will answer any questions. At the completion of the study, I woul d like to discuss the findings with you. You have the right to withdraw consent for your pa rticipation at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research pr otocol, please contact me at the University of Florida, Department of Special Education, G315 Norman Hall, P.O. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0701 ext. 289 or my faculty advi sor, Dr. Mary Brownell, at the University of Florida, Department of Special E ducation, G-315 Norman Hall, P.O. Box 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0701 ext. 249. Ques tions or concerns about your rights as research participant may be dire cted to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, P.O. Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. I have read the procedure described above. I vol untarily participate in this study and I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________________________ _________________ Signature of Participant Date _____________________________________________ Print Name

PAGE 182

182 APPENDIX C INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Pre-serv ice Teacher Interview I Protocol Note: Interview I is conducted near the beginnin g of the study, but after the participants have completed the knowledge about reading assessment and prior experiences survey. I would like to thank you for agr eeing to participate in this study about pre-service teacher reading preparation. Your contribution to this study is greatly appreciated. This interview will help me gain a genera l understanding about your beliefs, knowledge, and experiences concerning reading inst ruction. The interview will be recorded for research purposes and its tape will be available upon your request. You do not have to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. 1. To maintain confidentiality, I would li ke to transcribe your responses under a pseudonym. What would you like your pseudonym to be? 2. Tell me about your early reading experiences. -What were they like? -Can you remember what kind of strategies teachers used? -How did they make you feel? 3. Describe the courses you have had during th e ProTeach program that relate to reading instruction? 4. I noticed that you answered__________ on the kn owledge about reading assessement. Can you tell me more about this? -Why did you pick this answer? -What did you think about when you answered this question? -Where did you learn this information? 5. Is there anything I have left out about struggling readers that you would like to discuss? Thank you for your time.

PAGE 183

183 Pre-service Teacher Interview II & III Protocol Note: Interviews II & III are conducted after classroom observa tions have been conducted. I would like to ask questions a bout your experiences and prac tices during your internship experience. Like the first interview, this interv iew will be also recorded for research purposes and its tape will be available upon your request. You do not have to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. 1. Tell me about your internship experience. 2. How do you know what to teach and how to teach reading during your internship experience? 3. When I conducted classroom observations, I noticed ______________. Can you tell me about this? -From what knowledge did you draw? -Where did you learn this? Please explain. 4. How do your ProTeach courses relate to your internship? 5. Is there anything about teaching reading that I have left out that you would like to discuss? Thank you for your time.

PAGE 184

184 Pre-service Teacher Interview IV Protocol Note: Interview IV is conduc ted at the end of the study I would like to ask you to help me verify that the information I have collected is accurate. I would also like to talk with you about your prog ram of study. Like the other interviews, this interview will be also recorded for research pu rposes and its tape will be available upon your request. You do not have to answer any que stion that makes you feel uncomfortable. 1. Describe your program of study? -What courses have you taken that have he lped you in your teaching of reading? -What experiences have been most meaningful? 2. Where else have you learned about reading instruction? 3. I have a copy of the syllabus from ___________ c ourse. Can you tell me about this course? -What did you learn from this course? -Do you use any of this knowledge when you teach reading during your internship? 4. In our earlier interviews, you sa id __________________. Do you still believe this? 5. In our earlier interviews, you said __________________. What else would you like to add to this? 6. ________________ is something that I have learned from this study. Based on your experience, is this correct? 7. Is there anything related to any of our convers ations that you would lik e to discuss further? 8. Have I left out anything related to this study that you would like to tell me? Thank you for your participation.

PAGE 185

185 Course Instructor Interview Protocol I would like to ask you to talk to me about the course you teach in reading instruction. Also, I would like to make sure the information I have colle cted is accurate. This interview will be also recorded for research purposes and its tape wi ll be available upon your request. You do not have to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. 1. Describe your reading methods course? -What experiences are most meaningful? -What knowledge do pre-service teache rs acquire from this course? -Why is ____________ assignment/experience a part of the course? 2. How does this course relate to ot her reading courses in the program? 3. ________________ is something that I have learned from this study. Based on your experience, is this correct? -Is there anything you woul d like to add or change? 7. Is there anything related to our conversat ion that you would like to discuss further? 8. Have I left out anything related to this study that you would like to tell me? Thank you for your participation.

PAGE 186

186 Practicum Cooperating Teacher Interview Protocol I would like to ask you to talk to me about your participation as a c ooperating teacher. Also, I would like to make sure the information I have colle cted is accurate. This interview will be also recorded for research purposes and its tape wi ll be available upon your request. You do not have to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. 1. Tell me about your teaching experience? 2. Did your preparation progra m have reading courses? 3. Describe reading instru ction for your students? 4. How best do students learn to read? 5. Do you have students with disabilities in your class? 6. How do they receive their sp ecial education services? 7. How did you get to have a practicum student? 8. What struggles do you see interns having? 9. What are your goals for ___________ this semester? 10. What do you hope she will learn from being in your class? 11. How does she plan a lesson? 12. Is there anything related to our conversat ion that you would like to discuss further? 13. Have I left out anything related to this study that you would like to tell me? Thank you for your participation.

PAGE 187

187 Field Advisor Interview Protocol I would like to ask you to talk to me about your participation as a PROT EACH field supervisor. Also, I would like to make sure the information I have collected is accurate. This interview will be also recorded for research purposes and it s tape will be available upon your request. You do not have to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. 1. What is your teaching experience? 2. How did you become a field advisor? 3. Besides Pathwise, what other th ings do you base your evaluation on? 4. How do you conduct a feedback session? 5. What are practicum student s strengths? Weaknesses? 6. What are your impressions of their read ing knowledge? 7. How do placements differ? 8. From what knowledge sources are pract icum students basing their knowledge? 9. What is the perfect pla cement to link UF knowledge? 10. Is there anything related to our conversat ion that you would like to discuss further? 11. Have I left out anything related to this study that you wo uld like to tell me? Thank you for your participation.

PAGE 188

188 APPENDIX D TABLE OF CODES Table D-1. Table of Codes Open codes Axial codes Selective codes make accountable lack of involvement in planning Influence of individual congruence with university courses accountability during practicum Influence of university knowledge of terminology alignment of courses Influence of field placements focus on assessment appropriation of labels Personal qualities need to learn about assessments differences in prior schooling Motivation for knowledge assimilation congruence with university and practicum alignment of university and practicum Access to knowledge course content overlaps participation in decision making Opportunities to appropriate knowledge in practice knowledge for decision making delayed appreciation of coursework decision making about curriculum opportunities for differentiation delayed appreciation difficulty enacting knowledge differentiating instructio n difficulty of reading knowledge difficult to enact knowledge positive family influence coursework is not clear honest about ability differences in content difficulty importance of practice learning to read is effortless individual differences reading complexities are new instructional logistics mom is a teacher knowledge assimilation positive perceptions of university knowledge accepting of feedback hidden difficulties of teaching lack of special education knowledge lesson planning takes time levels of knowledge coursework linked to practice link theory to practice practical component time spent planning opportunity to practice economic background hands-on learning cultural background confidence levels differ practicum differences

PAGE 189

189 Table D-1. Continued. Open codes Axial codes Selective codes difficulty letting go of past prior experiences in classrooms influence of past experiences reflection revert back resistance to coursework reflection time constraints differences in knowledge varying perspectives sense of entitlement ba rriers to instruction differing cooperating teacher motivations collaboration personal philosophy develops communication info needs to be assimilated opportunities to teach students "filed and clicked" influence of cooperating teacher relief comes with knowledge assimilation influence of university "ah ha moment" instructional freedom reading builds knowledge knowledge of self work with struggling readers knowledge supports observation of progress open mind UFLI beneficial reflective not making connections re lationship to students relating various components resistant to feedback language barriers responsive to students tension between ideal and reality successful practices tension between university and classroom varied student abilities gets pre-lesson feedback natural teaching ability lack of communication desire to improve lack knowledge about reading role of curriculum lack of knowledge about students with disabilities future teaching goals disabilities are a myster y student population superficial knowledge vs. deep understanding opportunities to implement five areas of reading research-based behavior management

PAGE 190

190 Table D-1. Continued. Open codes Axial codes Selective codes motivated by grades dilemmas school differences hidden complexities of teaching service delivery model differences self-consciousness school viewpoints differ special education reading instruction reflect on prior schooling ch aracteristics of special educators five components of reading instructional restrictions reading strategies trust provides resources lack of opportunities to observe effective instruction reflective logs cooperating teacher beliefs acceptance of phonics rigid adherence to structure resistant to repetitive knowledge prior experiences observing in inclusive classrooms experiences help translate knowledge organized "real world" assignment personal teaching style link to the classroom systematic link theory and practice intr insic motivation to help students with disabilities time constraint mother is teacher barriers to instruction lack of opportunities to observe sped practices excessive content FCAT focus impact of behavior management cooperating teacher reading knowledge ability to collaborate cooperating teacher special education knowledge importance of communication positive coursework experience feedback negative coursework experience varied teaching abilities influence of field supervisor differences in motivation initiative differences in initiative desire to be liked instructional freedom sib ling with disability know strengths and weaknesses future goal of special education open to feedback positive role of UFLI

PAGE 191

191 Table D-1. Continued. Open codes Axial codes Selective codes keep an open mind lack of opportunities to plan instruction class size variables conflicting coursework messages reflection role of curriculum student-centered instruction early reading memories do what works multiple adults provide knowledge effective instruction for students determination lack the bigger picture accepts a challenge don't have "teacher eyes" strives for excellence cooperating teacher as coach responsibility for student learning relinquish control accountability during coursework modeling timid general feedback confidence level cooperating teacher influence cooperating teacher feedback rapport with students commitment to all students anxiety extrinsic motivation to help students with disabilities lack big picture service delivery model tunnel vision opportunities to teach reading scripted curriculum acc ountable for delivering instruction differentiation is hard emergent literacy natural teaching ability assessment courses evidence of pre-planning challenging classroom management pacing is difficult field supervisor feedback "time is of the essence" confining curriculum interest in inclusion gaps between university and practicum affective motivation develop patience likes a challenge sparked an interest diverse students many fragile readers

PAGE 192

192 Table D-1. Continued. Open codes Axial codes Selective codes growing love of ESE kids provide motivation negative coursework miscommunication "clicked" with kids reading assessments learned from prior placement ability grouping use of curriculum joint planning concern for students experience is beneficial expands on curriculum draws on personal experience centers beliefs about inclusion love of reading relies on curriculum cultural differences lesson coherence fun instruction teach to mastery takes responsibility "drown or swim" teaching reading is hard automaticity challenges are beneficial similar teaching styles draws on own schooling motivated by student success find the right instruction teaching background student ownership of learning establish expectations establish procedures teaching looks easy specific feedback organizational skills several adults role confusion

PAGE 193

193 Table D-1. Continued. Open codes Axial codes Selective codes overwhelmed schooling background students left alone provides accommodations inclusion in LRE bring in coursework knowledge lack of knowledge for beginning reading balancing a dilemma direct instruction teacher fog develop with-it-ness knowledge transfer outside looking in teaching strategies were invisible caught in the middle instructional restrictions error analysis controlled by routine foster student independence lack of confidence resistant to feedback challenged by prior beliefs curriculum is helpful joint planning trust similar styles higher expectations respect for cooperating teacher support from university learns from others students like hands on students need repetition co-teaching model no training for cooperating teacher classroom management comes with time classroom management is a necessity for instruction

PAGE 194

194 Table D-1. Continued. Open codes Axial codes Selective codes learn by watching must model reading inclusion model believes in inclusion disability in lack of resources FCAT focus advanced word study strategies critiques curriculum limited teaching opportunities difficult placement hard to control behavior unaware of reading complexities point sheets not deviating from existing structure "doing it and seeing it" information overload doesn't relate to students realization of teacher self early teaching aspirations excluded from planning practicum is necessary coursework intimidates good teaching looks easy uses curriculum as a resource rejected feedback prior opportunities to teach loss of classroom control strengthen general education skills develop "teacher toolkit" teacher-directed instruction focuses on what students would like restricted placement turning point plans instruction based on student needs

PAGE 195

195 Table D-1. Continued Open codes Axial codes Selective codes relates to middle class poor behavior management is barrier scripted programs take time to learn lack of reading mastery knowledge teachers must be flexible learning to work with others communicates before lesson provides formal feedback informal observation find comfort zone discovering student needs instruction is differentiated instruction is individualized lesson approval limited acceptance of outside knowledge must enjoy reading university curriculum is disconnected from schools meeting expectations lost trust with interns accepting of pre-service teachers instructional logistics managing small groups setting expectations establishing procedures university preparation is good knows sounds believes in phonics believes in placements must do it to learn it don't know until you teach it comfort with curriculum ability to attend to multiple things

PAGE 196

196 Table D-1. Continued. Open codes Axial codes Selective codes push language structured, sequential curriculum individualization kids get what they need no involvement in planning purposeful plan facilitates behavior management student differences silent reading partner reading groupings small group instruction pullout service delivery model struggles with time management in-depth planning improve time management lack of communication must collaborate must communicate

PAGE 197

197 APPENDIX E EXCERPTS FROM REFLECTIVE LOG Septem ber 20, 2007 Today was my first interview with Nancy. She was very sweet but also very shy. I had to work to get her to elaborate on her answers. Roosevelt Elementary did not start reading instruction until the 2nd or 3rd week of school. Nancy has just been helping out with the kids, not really teaching yet. She agreed to hand out video c onsent forms for students and then email me a good time to come observe. October 1, 2007 Today I interviewed Instructor E. She seemed ve ry rushed. I did not feel overly welcome. She asked if it would take longer than 10-15 minutes. I told her I would not take more time than she could give me.

PAGE 198

198 LIST OF REFERENCES Baker, S., Gersten, R., H aager, D., Dingle, M. & Goldenberg, C. (2004). The relationship between observed teaching practice and growth in readin g in 1st graders who are English learners (Tech. Rep. No. 2004-1). Eugene, OR: P acific Institutes for Research. Bandura, A. (1995). Self-efficacy in changing societies New York: Cambridge University Press. Beran, T. & Violato, C. (2005). Ratings of univers ity teacher instruction: How much do student and course characteristics really matter? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 30, 593-601. Berliner, D. C. (1988). The half-full glass: A revi ew of research on teaching. In E. L. Meyen, G.A. Vergason, & R.J. Whelan (Eds.), Effective instructional strategies for exceptional children (pp.7-31). Denver, CO: Love Publishing. Blanton, L., Sindelar, P., Correa, V., Hard man, M., McDonnel, J., & Kuhel, K. (2003). Conceptions of beginning teacher quality: Models for conducting research Center for Personnel Studies in Special Education. Retrieved April 18, 2005 from Book, C. L. & Freeman, D. J. (1986). Differences in entry characteristics of elementary and secondary teacher candidates. Journal of Teacher Education, 37 (2), 47-51. Borko, H. & Putnam, R. (1996). Learning to t each. In D. Berliner & R. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational psychology (pp. 673-699). New York: Macmillan. Bos, C., Mather, N., Dickson, S., Podhajski, B ., & Chard, D. (2001). Perceptions and knowledge of preservice and inservice educat ors about early reading instruction. Annals of Dyslexia, 51, 97-120. Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Grossman, P., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2006). How changes in entry requirements alter the teacher workforce and affect student achievement. Education Finance and Policy, 1 (2), 1-41. Brookhart, S. M. & Freeman, D. J. (1992). Char acteristics of entering teacher candidates. Review of Educational Research, 32 (1), 37-60. Brophy, J. (1999). Toward a model of the value as pects of motivation in education: Developing appreciation for particular le arning domains and activities. Education Psychologist, 34(2) 75-85. Brownell, M. T., Bishop, A. G., Gersten, R., Klingner, J. K., Dimino, J., Haager, D. et al. (in press). Examining the Dimensions of Teach er Quality for Beginning Special Education Teachers: The Role of Domain Expertise. Exceptional Children

PAGE 199

199 Brownell, M. T., Ross, D. D., Colon, E. P., & McCallum, C. L. (2005). Critic al features of special education teacher preparation: A comparison wi th exemplary practices in general teacher education. Journal of Special Education, 38 242-252. Bullough, R. V. & Stokes, D. K. (1994). Analyz ing personal metaphors in preservice teacher education as a means for encour aging professional development. American Educational Research Journal, 31 (1), 197-224. Calderhead, J. & Robson, M. (1991). Images of t eaching: Student teachers early conceptions of classroom practice. Teaching & Teacher Education, 7 1-8. Carlisle, J., Phelps, G., Ro wan, B., & Johnson, D. (2006). Development of a test of teachers knowledge about early reading. (Technical Report No. 1). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. Charmaz, K. (2000). Grounded theory objectiv ist and constructivist methods. In N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 273-285). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory London: Sage. Cheek, E.H., Steward, F.A., Launey, B.L., & Borgia, L.G. (2004). Facilitative reading instruction: Preservice teachers voi ces and perceptions. Reading Improvement, 41 129-142. Cochran-Smith, M. (2000). The outco mes question in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17 527-546. Cook, B. (2002). Inclusive attitudes, strengths an d weaknesses of pre-serv ice general educators enrolled in a curriculum infusi on teacher preparation program. Teacher Education and Special Education, 25 262-277. Corbin, J. & Holt, N. (2005). Grounded theory. In B. Somekh & C. Lewin (Eds.), Research methods in the social sciences (pp. 49-55). Thousand Oaks: Sage. Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research de sign: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Crotty, M. (1998). The foundations of social research Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Daniels, H. (2001). Vygotsky and pedagogy London: Routledge. Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Studies of excellence in teacher education Washington, DC: AACTE Publications. DeFord, D. (1985). Validating the construct of theoretical orie ntation in reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 20 351-367.

PAGE 200

200 Denzin, N. K., & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.). (2000). Handbook qualitative research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Duffy, A. M., & Atkinson, T.S. (2001). Learni ng to teach struggling (and non-struggling) elementary school readers: An analysis of pre-service teachers knowledges. Reading Research and Instruction, 41, 83-102. Fairbanks, C. M. & Meritt, J. (1998). Preservice teachers' reflections and the role of context in learning to teach. Teacher Education Quarterly, 25, 47-68. Fang, Z. & Ashley, C. (2004). Preser vice teachers interpretations of a field-based reading block. Journal of Teacher Education, 55, 39-54. Feiman-Nemser, S. (1983). Learning to teac h. In L. S. Shulman and G. Sykes (Eds.), Handbook of teaching and policy (pp. 150-171). New York: Longman. Feiman-Nemser, S., & Buchmann, M. (1985). The first year of teacher preparation: Transition to pedagogical thinking? Michigan State Univ: Institu te for research on teaching. Fuller, F. F. (1969). Concerns of teach ers: A developmental conceptualization. American Educational Research Journal, 6 (62), 207-226. Garmon, M. A. (2004). Changing preservice teachers attitudes/beliefs about diversity: What are the critical factors? Journal of Teacher Education, 55 (3), 201-213. Garriott, P. P., Miller, M., & Snyder, L. (2003). Pre-service t eachers beliefs about inclusive education: What should teacher educators know? Action in Teacher Education 25 (1), 4854. Giangreco, M. F., Dennis, R., Cloninger, C., Ed elman, S., & Schattman, R. (1993). Ive counted Jon: Transformational experiences of teacher s educating students with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 59, 359-372. Glaser, B.G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press. Glaser B., & Strauss, A. L. (1967 ). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine Publishing Company. Graue, M. E. (1993). Ready for what? Constructing meanings of readiness for Kindergarten Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Grbich, C. (2007). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Green, J. E., & Weaver, R. A. (1992). Who aspire s to teach? A descriptiv e study of preservice teachers. Contemporary Education, 63 (3), 234-238.

PAGE 201

201 Grossman, P. L. & McDonald, M. (2008). Back to the future. Directions for research in teaching and teacher education. American Educational Research Journal, 45 184-205. Grossman, P. L., Smagorinsky, P., & Valencia S. (1999). Appropriati ng tools for teaching English: A theoretical framework fo r research on learning to teach. American Journal of Education, 108 1-25. Grossman, P. L., Valencia, S. W., Evans, K., Thompson, C., Martin, S., & Place, N. (2000). Transitions into teaching: Learning to teach writing in teacher education and beyond. Journal of Literacy Research 32(4), 631-62. Guarino, C. M., Hamilton, L. S., Lockwood, J. R., & Rathbun, A. H. (2006). Teacher qualifications, instructional practices, and reading and mathematics gains of kindergartners (NCES No. 2006-031). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Harlin, R. P. (1999). Developing fu ture professionals: Influences of literacy coursework and field experiences. Reading Research and Instruction, 38 351-370. Harris, D. N. & Sass, T. R. (2007). The effects of NBPTS-certi fied teachers on students achievement. Durham, NC: Urban Institute. Hatton, M. & Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher educat ion: Towards definition and implementation. Teaching and Teacher Education, 11 (1), 33-49. Hess, F. M. (2001). Tear down the wall: The case for a radi cal overhaul of teacher certification. Washington, DC: Progressive Policy Institute. Retrieved February 27, 2007 from: ?knlgAreaID=110&subsecID=135 Hoffman, J. V., Roller, C., Maloch, B., Sailors, M., Duffy, G., Beretvas S. N. et al. (2005). Teachers preparation to teaching reading and their experien ces and practices in th e first three years of teaching. The Elementary School Journal, 105 (3), 267-288. Hollingsworth, S. (1989). Prior beliefs and c ognitive change in learning to teach. American Education Research Journal, 26 160-189. Hoy, W. K. & Woolfolk, A. E. (1990). Socialization of student teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 27 279-300. Humphrey, D., & Wechsler, M. (2005). Insights into alternative certification: Initial findings from a national study. Retrieved July 27, 2007 from http: // Hutchinson, N. L. & Martin, A. K. (1999). Foster ing inclusive beliefs and practices during preservice teacher education th rough communities of practice. Teacher Education and Special Education, 22 234-250.

PAGE 202

202 International Reading Association. (2003). Prepared to make a difference: An executive summary of the national commission on excellenc e in elementary teacher preparation for reading instruction. Newark, DE: IRA. Jirovec, R. L., Ramanathan, C. S., & Alvarez, A. R. (1998). Cour se evaluations: What are social work students telling us about teaching effectiveness? Journal of Social Work Education, 34, 229-236. Jonassen, D. H., & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999). Ac tivity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47 61-79. Kagan, D. M. (1992). Professional growth am ong preservice and beginning teachers. Review of Educational Research, 62 129-169. Kagan, D. M. (1992a). Implication of research on teacher belief. Educational Psychologist, 27 (1), 65-90. Kennedy, M. (1991). Some surprising fi ndings on how teachers learn to teach. Educational Leadership, 49(3), 14-17. Kennedy, M. (1991a). Research genres in teacher education. (Issue Paper 91-1). Retrieved October 11, 2007 from Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. London: MacMillan Publishing Company. Laczko-Kerr, I., & Berliner, D. C. (2002). The effectiveness of Teach for America and other under-certified teachers on student academic achievement: A case of harmful public policy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10 (37). Retrieved January, 15, 2008, from Lessen, E., & Frankiewicz, L.E. (1 992). Personal attributes and char acteristics of effective Special education teachers: Considerations for teacher educators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 15 (2), 124-131. Lincoln, Y.S., & Guba, E.G. (2000). Paradigmatic controversies, contra dictions and emerging confluences. In N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 105-117). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Linek, W. M., Nelson, O. G., Sampson, M.B., Zeek, C.K., Mohr, K.A., & Hughes, L. (1999). Developing beliefs about literacy instruction: A cross-case anal ysis of preservice teachers in traditional and field based settings. Reading Research and Instruction, 38 371-386. Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher; a sociological study Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

PAGE 203

203 Maloch, B., Flint, S. A., Eldridge, D., Harmon, J., Loven, R., Fine, J. C., et al. (2003). Understandings, beliefs, and reported decisi on making of first-year teachers from different reading teacher preparation programs. The Elementary School Journal, 103 (5), 431-457. McLeskey, J., Waldron, N. L., So, T. H., Swanso n, K., & Loveland, T. (2001). Perspectives of teachers toward inclusive school programs. Teacher Education and Special Education, 24, 108-115. Merriam, S. B. (1995). What can you tell from an N of 1?: Issues of valid ity and reliability in qualitative research. PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning, 4, 51-60. Minke, K. M., Bear, G. G., Deemer, S. A., & Gr iffin, S. M. (1996). Teachers experiences with inclusive classrooms: Implications for special education reform. The Journal of Special Education, 30, 152-186. Monk, D.H. (1994). Subject matter preparati on of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13 (2), 125-145. Munby, H. (1982). The place of teachers beli efs in research on teacher thinking and decision making and an alternative methodology. Instructional Science 11, 201. Munby, H., Russell, T., & Martin, A. K. (2001). T eachers knowledge and how it develops. In V. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (4th ed., pp. 877-905). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. Mundel-Atherstone, B. J. (1980, June). A personality profile of students who are successful in student teaching and in teaching Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Montreal, Quebec. Nardi, B. (1996). Contexts and consciousness: Activity th eory and human-computer interaction. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. (1991). Findings from the teacher education and learning to teach study East Lansing, MI: National Ce nter for Research on Teacher Learning, Michigan State University College of Education. National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A Nation at Risk Retrieved April 4, 2007, from /NatAtRisk/index.html National Commission on Teaching a nd Americas Future. (1996). What matters most: Teaching for Americas future. New York: Author. Nierstheimer, S.L., Hopkins, C.J., & Dillon, D.R. (2000). Pre-service teachers shifting beliefs about struggling literacy learners. Reading Research and Instruction, 40 1-16.

PAGE 204

204 Nougaret, A.A., Scruggs, T.E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (2005). Does teacher education produce better SETs? Exceptional Children, 71 (5) 217-229. Pajares, M.F. (1992). Teachers beliefs and educ ational research : Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62 307-332. Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods, (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Phelps, G. & Schilling, S. (2004). Developing measures of content knowledge for teaching reading. Elementary School Journal, 105 31-48. Pierce, F.P. (2004). From literacy methods classes to the real world: Experiences of preservice teachers. The New England Reading A ssociation Journal, 40, 55-62. Pigge, F. L. & Marso, R. N. (1986, February). Influences of personal and academic characteristics on beginning teacher education students attitudes, concerns, and anxieties toward teaching Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Teacher Educators, Atlanta, GA. Pigge, F. L. & Marso, R. N. (1987). Relationship between student characteristics and changes in attitudes, concerns, anxietie s, and confidence about teaching during teacher preparation. Journal of Educational Research, 81 109-115. Pigge, F. L. & Marso, R. N. (1990). A longitudi nal assessment of the affective impact of preservice training on prospective teachers. Journal of Experimental Education, 58 (4), 283289. Poulu, M. (2007). Personal teaching efficacy and its sources: Student teachers perceptions. Educational Psychology, 27 (2), 191-218. Pugach, M. (2005). Research on preparing teachers to work with students with disabilities. In M. Cochran-Smith, & K.M. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher educatio n: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education (pp. 549-590). Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Richards, J. C. & Morse, T. E. (2002). One pres ervice teachers experien ces teaching literacy to regular and special education students. Reading Online, June. Richardson, V. (1996). The role of attitudes and beliefs in learning to teach. In J. Sikula, T. J. Buttery, & E. Guyton (Eds .), Handbook of Research on Teacher Education (pp.102119). NY: Macmillan. Richardson, V., & Placier, P. (2001). Teach er change. In V. Richardson (Ed.). Handbook for research on teaching (pp. 905-947). Washington, DC: Am erican Educational Research Association.

PAGE 205

205 Saklofske, D., Michaluk, B., & Randhawa, B. ( 1988). Teachers efficacy and teaching behaviors. Psychological Report, 63 407-414. Schell, L. & Rouch, R. (1988). The low readi ng group: An instructional and social dilemma. Journal of Reading Education, 14 18-23. Sindelar, P. T., Daunic, A., & Rennells, M. S. (2004). Comparisons of traditionally and alternatively trained teachers. Exceptionality 12, 209-223. Smith, G. & Anderson, K. J. (2005). Students ratings of professors: The teaching style contingency for Latino/a professors. Journal of Latinos and Education, 4, 115-136. Stough, L., & Palmer, D. (2003). Special thinking in special settings: A qual itative study of expert special educators. The Journal of Special Education, 36 206-222. Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Sudzina, M.R. & Knowles, G. J. (1993). Personal, professional and contextual circumstances of student teachers who fail: Setting a course for understandin g failure in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 44(4), 254-262. Taylor, B. M., Pressley, M., & Pearson, P. D. (2000). Effective teachers and schools: Trends across recent studies. Ann Arbor, MI: Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement. Taylor, S. V. & Sobel, D. M. (2001). Addressi ng the discontinuity of students and teachers diversity A preliminary study of pre-servi ce teachers beliefs a nd perceived skills. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17 487-503. Terrill, M., & Mark, D. L. H. (2000). Preservice teach ers expectations for schools with children of color and second-language learners. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(2), 149-155. Tschannen-Moran, M., Woolfolk Hoy, A., & Hoy, W. (1998). Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure. Review of Educational Research, 68 (2), 202-248. Waldron, N. L., McLeskey, J., & Pacciano, D. (1999). Giving teachers a voice: Teachers perspectives regarding elementary inclusive school programs (ISP). Teacher Education and Special Education, 22 141-153. Walsh, K. (2001). Teacher certification reconsid ered: Stumbling for quality Baltimore, MD: The Abell Foundation. Retrieved June 24, 2005 from lications/detail.asp?ID=59

PAGE 206

206 Weisner, T. S., Gallimore, R., & Jordan, C. (1988). Unpacking cultural effects on classroom learning: Hawaiian peer assistance and child-generated activity. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 19 327-353. Wenglinsky, H. (2000). Teaching the teachers: Different settings, different results Princeton, NJ: Policy Information Center. Wham, M.A. (1993). The relationship between u ndergraduate course work and beliefs about reading instruction. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 27 9-17. Wideen, M., Mayer-Smith, J., & Moon, B. (1998). A critical analysis of the research on learning to teach: Making the case fo r an ecological perspective on inquiry. Review of Educational Research, 68 130-178. Wilson, S. M, Floden, R. E., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001). Teacher preparation research: Current knowledge, gaps, and recommendations. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. Zeichner, K.M. (2005). A research agenda for te acher education. In M. Cochran-Smith, & K.M. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying Teacher Education (pp.737-760) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Zeichner, K. M., & Conklin, H. G. (2005). Teacher education programs. In M. Cochran-Smith, & K.M. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education (pp. 645-736). Mawah, NJ: Lawr ence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Zumwalt, K., & Craig, E. (2005). Teachers characte ristics: Research on the indicators of quality. In M. Cochran-Smith, & K.M. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher educat ion: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education (pp.157-260) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

PAGE 207

207 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Melinda Marie Leko was born on April 21, 198 0, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Melinda and her fam ily lived in Louisian a until she was three years old; at which time, they moved to Sarasota, Florida. After graduating from Pi ne View High School in 1998, Melinda attended college at the University of Florida receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in cr iminology in 2001 and being named Va ledictorian of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Realizing her love of teaching, Melinda im mediately entered an accelerated masters program in elementary educa tion at the University of Florida. Receiving her masters in education degree in 2002, Melinda began her teaching career in Levy County, where she worked as a third grade general educator in an inclusive classroom in the rural community of Williston, FL. Two years later, Melinda assumed th e position of teacher for gifted students in grades 3-12 in the city of Williston. While taking classes for her gifted teaching endorsement and specialists degree, Melinda d ecided to pursue her doctorate in special education at the University of Florida. She was admitted to the University of Florida as a doctoral student and Alumni Fellow in 2005. During her doctoral program, Melinda wa s a research assistant on the OSEP funded leadership grant Project Research in Teacher Ed ucation (RITE). Melinda also participated in various research projects through the Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education (COPSSE). Finally, Melinda was ap pointed to the position of pr oject coordinator for the IES funded project Literacy Learning Cohort (LLC). Her research inte rests include special education teacher preparation, specific learning disa bilities, research methods, and reading.