Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Katherine H. Greenberg

Committee Members

Barbara Thayer-Bacon, Schuyler Huck, Sandra P. Thomas, Howard R. Pollio


This dissertation investigates the instructional planning practices of one university professor as he prepared to teach weekly classes for a seminar in existential phenomenology. I applied the phenomenological pedagogy of van Manen and the phenomenological philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Heidegger, and Gadamer in order to understand the process this professor undertook as he planned instruction for his graduate course. The study is a phenomenologically oriented, illustrative, and descriptive case study of this professor’s planning practices over the course of one semester in the context in which those practices occurred.

Findings from this study demonstrate that Dr. Pollio’s instructional planning is grounded in his ontological orientation as a phenomenologist. The ground theme, “But I’m a Phenomenologist!” framed Pollio’s considerations as he carried out the instructional planning for his seminar. Six figural themes describe the epistemological and methodological tools of Pollio’s instructional planning: “What Can They Experience in Class?” Playing with Possibilities, “Blow them Away!” “A Good Question,” “All the Stuff,” and Going with the Flow. Additional data widened and deepened an understanding of Pollio’s instructional planning through examination of the experience of the seminar for a variety of participants. These experiences were categorized as: “Blew My Mind!” “It Makes Sense,” “Visual Phenomena,” “Tribal Language,” and “At Ease.” Findings are defined and discussed.

Implications of this work include a need to continue to define and practice phenomenological pedagogy, building on the work of pioneers and adding our own experiences. They further suggest that we make time for dialogue within instructional planning practices as these conversations may contribute to a clarification of intentions for future class meetings. Implications of this work suggest that researchers include explorations of teacher ontology and epistemology in studies of instruction and instructional planning, and indicate the inseparability of teachers’ philosophies and practices. Finally, implications of this study encourage us to regard the primacy of instructors’ educational philosophies, especially in teacher preparation programs. Authentic teaching may be the result of instructional planning that demonstrates congruence between teaching knowledge and beliefs, disciplinary commitments, and methods and models of instruction.

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