Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Katherine H. Greenberg

Committee Members

Ralph G. Brockett, Schuyler W. Huck, Howard R. Pollio


This study describes the perceptions of workshop participants’ experience and their perceptions of their facilitator in four workshops held in three separate settings where we worked together to collaboratively construct knowledge. The purpose of the study was to learn about my practice through critically reflecting on how my personal history, experiences, practical theory and assumptions influenced my role as facilitator and to learn about my practice through the reflected gaze of workshop participants. Data were derived from three sets of daily journals from three workshops and from one focus group interview. I separated the quotes from each workshop into two sets, the participants’ description of their own learning experience and their perceptions of me, the facilitator. I proceeded through the transcripts sequentially according to the date of the workshop. The transcripts were analyzed using a phenomenological approach. I built the themes as I progressed and gained a better sense of what the workshop participants were saying. I used all their quotations. I checked my analysis with research groups three times, and each time it helped me refine the themes. Two sets of themes emerged from the data describing participants’ perceptions of their experience and their perceptions of the facilitator. The theme, learning in a safe environment forms the ground for both sets of themes. It describes the importance of safety and the critical role of the facilitator in creating a safe environment. A safe environment is vital for teachers to take risks in learning and to critically examine their learning and teaching. Facilitators have many roles; the participants described four roles. Creator of a safe learning environment, with four themes characterizes the facilitating role to create an environment where workshop participants can feel accepted, voice their thoughts easily, become a community of learners and realize that it is diversity that contributes to their learning. The role of expert is about the knowledge, skill and experience of the facilitator, which contributes to learning. The role of storyteller helps workshop participants make connections between practice and theory and how stories aid in bringing clarity to understanding. The role of role model is about learning from the actions and behavior of the facilitator.

This study shows the significant and multidimensional role of the facilitator in building a learning environment that is non-threatening: where learning can be shared; learning is a collaborative endeavor; is highly interactive and promotes critical self reflection even in settings where there is diversity amongst participants.

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