Jill Ostrow

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Literacy Education


Brenda M. Power

Second Committee Member

Janice V. Kristo

Third Committee Member

Constance Perry


New teachers face enormous pressure- to understand and assess student learning, to work well with parents, and to ensure their curricula are aligned with state and national standards. Nowhere is this pressure more evident than in literacy instruction, where competing notions of best practice can be confusing and overwhelming. This qualitative case study of an early career teacher, Alex Christopher, explores in-depth what influences her second grade literacy program. Her decisionmaking process during reading and writing instruction is analyzed within the context of local, state and national literacy reform initiatives, university/school partnerships, and professional development opportunities. Alex was selected for study because she has been teaching less than five years, is involved in a university/public school partnership, and has recently completed a series of professional development experiences designed to improve her literacy instruction. The research was completed using qualitative case study methods. Data collection included interviews, classroom observations, classroom and school artifacts, email exchanges, and informal conversations. Data analysis included triangulation, peer review and debriefing, and member checks. Special emphasis during the data analysis phase of the study was placed on crystallization, a newer analysis technique developed by Richardson (2000), and further extended by Janesick (2000). Crystallization provided multiple lenses for viewing the changes in Alex's practice and belief system throughout the course of the study. Crystallization techniques are also used in the presentation of the findings. The research draws on both traditional research reporting methods, and emerging artistic or aesthetic methods (Eisner, 1998) through poetry and visual representation of implications of the study. The findings of the study support a need for more sustained support of new teachers beyond preservice preparation, a more systematic understanding of how teachers can develop reflective skills, and a reconsideration of the role of university faculty in professional development school partnerships. Eisner, E.W. (1998). The kind of schools we need: Personal essays. Porstmouth, NH: Heinemann. Janesick, V. (2000). The choreography of qualitative research designs: Minuets, improvisations, and crystallization. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 379-400). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Richardson, L. (2000). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 923-948). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.