Bridging the theory-practice gap : a case study of novice teachers' reflective practice development in a Title I school / by Rachel Cooper Bray.
Abstract Rachel Cooper Bray Bridging the theory-practice gap: a case study of novice teachers' reflective practice development in a Title I school Under the direction of Lucy Bush, Ed.D. The purpose of this study is to describe the utilization of reflective practice inquiry by novice teachers as means to develop better instructional decision-making practices regarding their students who live in poverty. Research intentions are to discover a gap in the literature that addresses a potential nexus between novice teachers’ development of reflective practice as they instruct students who live in poverty and critical and social pedagogy. The study sought to answer the question of how does reflective practice influence novice teachers’ instructional decision-making practices? In addition, the answers to the questions of what are novice teachers’ underlying beliefs about teaching children who live in poverty, and how do these beliefs help develop a framework for social pedagogy were pursued. The participants were limited to those who were teaching within their first three years at a rural, Title I middle school located in the Southeast. Four novice teachers from a school in the Southeastern region of the United States participated in the study. Pre-and post-semi-structured interviews, along with reflective journal writings and classroom observations were conducted during the course of the study. Analysis of the data revealed the following findings: (a) Novice teachers’ instructional decision-making practices are positively influenced by reflective practices when teachers are more aware of their student’s needs through continuous reflection of their instructional practices, (b) Teachers who acknowledge an understanding of the “language of the poor” (Harrington, 1962) tend to make instructional decisions that mirrors this concept, and it may or not be similar to their own socioeconomic backgrounds, and (c) Novice teachers’ underlying educational philosophical beliefs along with reflective practice help build a foundation for critical pedagogy, which in turn, supports an elementary foundation for social pedagogy. Findings of this qualitative case study support the research that reflective inquiry could aid in the development of better instructional decision-making practices for novice teachers. The results of the study may give educators research literature to improve professional development regarding reflective practice for novice teachers. This study may also lend support for school superintendents and policy makers charged with implementing reflective practice curriculum for educators’ professional development.
Bray, Rachel Cooper