Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Education

Advisor/Chair:

Scott L. Hunsaker

Abstract

This mixed-method study used a survey and semistructured interviews to learn how new Arizona community college teachers learned to teach, how available certain learning experiences and effective professional development activities were, how valuable teachers perceived those learning experiences and activities to be, and if there were any factors that underlie how new community college teachers learned to teach. The survey questioned whether 26 learning experiences were available to new community college teachers, and whether they had participated in professional development activities conducted using critical reflection, peer group conferencing, professional development cases, and active learning. All of these activities were available to the majority of new teachers except for professional development cases, which were available to only 38% of respondents. The perception of these community college teachers was that active learning, critical reflection, and peer group conferencing were more valuable than other more typical faculty development activities. The researcher expected that professional development cases would be rated more highly than typical faculty development activities; however, the survey respondents who reported participating in professional development cases rated them as equally valuable to other faculty development activities, but not higher. The researcher discovered six factors that underlie the process new Arizona 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 process that new Arizona community college teachers used to learn to teach can be explained by the adult learning theory of transformative learning. They valued learning experiences that were reflective and applicable to the classroom. They benefitted from professional development activities that used the principles of transformative learning theory such as active learning, critical reflection, and peer group conferencing. Learning to teach was a process that included challenging and changing their assumptions about what happens in a community college classroom. They adjusted their assumptions and their teaching behaviors with time and experience.

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