Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Amy Broemmel

Committee Members

Ralph Brockett, Sherry Bell, Colleen Gilrane, Stergios Botsakis

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative dissertation is to provide a description of the professional book study experience and gain insight into its use to support teacher professional development. Research on the use of professional book studies has been conducted in colleges, and by university researchers in public school settings. There is also a large field of research on leisure book clubs, providing insight into their popularity. Little research exists, however, on professional book studies from the point of view of the educators who were the participants. This qualitative case study examined the perceptions of 12 educators who voluntarily participated in multiple professional book studies over a period of four years in order to answer the following research questions: 1) What are the participants’ perceptions of the book study experience as a professional development activity? 2) According to the participants’ perceptions, how does participation in professional book studies lead to long-term learning? Data included reflective summaries and blogs completed in conjunction with each book club and open-ended interviews conducted after all book club participation was completed.

As a result of the data analysis, two major themes were developed: Process and Product. The Process Theme data provided insight into what occurred in the book studies. The case study members believed that the book study groups helped them to comprehend the text at a deeper level, allowed them to practice strategies in a knowledge community, and provided them with a source of collaboration and camaraderie leading to development of long-term relationships. In the Product Theme, participants provided insight into how they changed their instructional practice, academic thinking, and personal beliefs. This case study demonstrates the positive changes that can occur when elements of effective professional development are incorporated into book studies. The data analysis indicated the development of a knowledge community where participants felt supported and challenged to try out new strategies in their workplaces. Finally, it is suggested that some participants appeared to experience transformative learning.

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