Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Department name when degree awarded

Education (Curriculum and Instruction)

Committee Chair(s)

Barry Franklin


Barry Franklin


Martha Whitaker


Todd Campbell


Steven Camicia


J. Nicholls Eastmond


In an era of comprehensive school reform, it appears that the voice of teachers is seldom solicited or recognized in the process of planning and implementing school-wide reform. The primary purpose of this study was to report the lived experiences of teachers at Timberton North High School (pseudonym) as it related to the Smaller Learning Community (SLC) reform initiative. Research questions addressed how the faculty experienced the SLC initiative and how their experiences were different from their perceived notion of what SLCs were trying to accomplish and in what ways SLCs initiated a socially constructed understanding of educational purposes. This study utilized a social constructivist lens to identify the nuances of reform and the interplay of effects upon the social, historical, and cultural constructs as they existed on the Timberton North campus and in the minds of the faculty members who participated.

The lived experience of the faculty members who participated in this study could be summed up in terms of frustration. The concept of frustration was manifest throughout the data as a unifying thread of a socially constructed understanding. Members of the faculty who formally and informally participated cited various evidences to substantiate their position of frustration, which proved invaluable to the success of this research. The theme of frustration, coupled with disaggregated subthemes, offers a hermeneutic understanding as to what was experienced on the Timberton North Campus. An additional theme of “hope” emerged from the data, as each of the faculty members expressed, in one way or another that something good would come as a result of their SLC efforts in the future.

There is considerable attention given in this study to the way the SLC concept was first articulated by the school and district and what was actually realized on the Timberton North campus. This further situates the lived experience within the context of the themes. The themes that were derived in this study have also been situated into the current literature that elaborates on issues of teacher emotionality, educational policy, administrative leadership, and educational reform in general. This particular study is primarily beneficial to those who participated. However, this piece of research will provide some breadth to the growing body of research that involves how teachers influence comprehensive high school reform agendas.




This work made publicly available electronically on August 9, 2011.

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