Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Department name when degree awarded

Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Scott L. Hunsaker


Scott L. Hunsaker


Steven O. Laing


Steven Camicia


Terry Peak


Susan Turner


New Arizona community college teachers go through a transformative learning process when they learn to teach. They enter the classroom with preformed ways of thinking about teaching. These habits of mind include what they imagine a community college teacher to be. They expect their knowledge and expertise to translate into teaching ability and they are shocked to learn that this is not the case. Classroom teaching involves basic pedagogical skills such as preventing cheating, creating appropriate tests, planning a course calendar, and pacing a lecture. The discomfort that accompanies this revelation causes the teachers to think critically about what good teaching is and to question their own practices. They seek guidance from their peers and they engage in constructive discourse that sparks critical thinking about their own teaching behaviors and their assumptions about their students and their colleges. Eventually, their teaching is transformed through a process that is explained by the adult learning theory of transformative learning. New teachers value learning experiences that are reflective and that are applicable to the classroom. They benefit from professional development activities that use active learning, critical reflection, and peer group conferencing. Learning to teach is a process that includes challenging and changing their assumptions about what happens in a community college classroom. They adjust their assumptions and their teaching behaviors with time and experience.

This study used a survey and interviews to discover how new Arizona community college teachers learned to teach, how valuable teachers perceived certain learning experiences to be, and whether Arizona community colleges were using effective methods to convey the content of their professional development programs. In descending order, new teachers valued learning experiences involving reflective activities, classroom application, formal methods of learning teaching strategies, and college-based activities. Additionally, the study revealed that six factors underlie the process new community college teachers used to learn to teach. They were guidance from others, receptive communications, formalized teacher training, personal resources, experimentation and reflection, and student perspective. The findings described above can assist instructional leaders in designing effective professional development experiences for their newly hired faculty.