Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Susan M. Benner

Committee Members

J. Amos Hatch, Lynn Cagle, Debbie Tegano


This qualitative study explored a nontraditional professional development activity for novice teachers that may help ease the transition into the profession of teaching. A social constructivist approach to professional development was used in which six new teachers were given the opportunity to discuss issues that they were facing in their classrooms. Data collection occurred in three phases, entrance interviews, five collaborative learning group meetings,and exit interviews. Qualitative methods were used in the data analysis process.

The collaborative learning group provided six new teachers time to talk about issues that were of concern to them. A common bond emerged as the teachers discovered that they all came from the same university program, they were in the same situation of being new teachers, and they shared a commitment to the group.They developed reciprocal relationships in which the teachers shared leadership within the group and engaged in collegial discussions. These relationships were more reciprocal than those the new teachers had without her professionals. The teachers became enlightened as they talked to each other and became more aware of other teachers' situations. As they began to compare their situations with those of their peers, their confidence increased.

The teachers directed their own learning and made changes in their teaching practices.They were empowered to solve their own problems, not letting someone else tell them what to do.The teachers discussed issues that pertained to their individual situations.They were reflective decision-makers and reflective practitioners. The support that the teachers received in the collaborative learning group was different than the support received from teachers within their home schools in that it tended to be a more positive, reciprocal, and constructive experience.

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