Date of Award

8-2002

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

LaVerne B. Lindsey

Committee Members

Julie K. Little, Handel K. Wright, Thomas J. Heffernan

Abstract

Secondary education interns in fifth-year licensure programs assume a complex variety of identities: preservice teachers, graduate students, and licensed first-year teachers. Inspired by a dual interest in the complexities of the transition experiences of novice teachers and in the effectiveness of community building through communication, the purpose for this study was to examine four novice teachers’ transitions—from student to student-teacher to licensed teacher—throughout the internship year. The impact of participation in a peer learning community, through electronic and face-to-face communication, was also explored.

The study employed a qualitative research design, which provided the intern-participants with extended opportunities for anecdotal dialogue in both electronic and face-to-face environments. The research questions guiding this study asked first about the issues involved in the participants’ transition experiences, and second, how participation in a peer community, through electronic and face-to-face communication, influenced that transition.

The findings for the study are presented through the participants’ transition narratives, and organized into the study’s five themes: major and minor characters, placement landscapes, landmark events, transition metaphors, and identities. An additional theme, atypical experiences, was added following a face-to-face group meeting.

Based on the participants’ comments and on the perceived benefits of their community participation, the study’s findings support the formation of peer learning communities. A combination of online and face-to-face communication methods appeared to be the most accessible and least intrusive during the busy internship year. Teacher education programs interested in providing purposeful, consistent, and candid dialogue through peer communities need to carefully consider issues of confidentiality, comfort with electronic communication, facilitation, community support, and implications of required participation.

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