Date of Award

5-2009

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Secondary Education

Advisor

John Maddaus

Second Committee Member

Edward Brazee

Third Committee Member

Sidney Mitchell

Abstract

There exists a large body of literature referring to the "Theory-Practice Gap" in education. In the literature there is little evidence supporting the existence of this gap. Researchers assert that this gap does, in fact, exist. The purpose of this thesis is to explore whether or not this gap does exist through examining the methods of ten teachers identified by the Maine Department of Education as "exemplary." To do this, ten nominees to the Maine Teacher of the Year Program were participants in this study. The author interviewed and surveyed the participants, in addition to observing their teaching and reviewing their professional portfolios (where available). The author identified five commonly known educational theories from textbooks in educational psychology and compared these teachers' methods and practices to the recommendations of the theories to ascertain whether or not a gap existed between these theories and the practices of these specific teachers. The author also asked the participants to evaluate their own awareness of theories by name and a second time in practice. The author found there exists a gap in so much as teachers are using theoretical recommendations, but are often unaware they are doing so; their teaching coincidentally corresponds with the recommendations of the theories. This might be accounted for by a lack of communication between the theorists and the educational community. This might also speak to flaws in teacher preparation programs. Several commonalities between participants which cannot be explained by educational theory were also found. The participants seemed to share personality traits which made them better teachers overall.

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