Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Diane Yendol-Hoppey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Audra Parker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jason Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Jacobs, Ph.D.


novice teachers, teacher inquiry, inquiry skills, inquiry dispositions


National attention given to heightening the quality of educators, calls attention to the practices used by programs to prepare teachers (CAEP, 2013). The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) requires evidence novice teachers “apply the professional… skills and dispositions preparation experiences were designed to achieve” (p.13). Grounded in reflection, teacher inquiry serves as a pedagogical practice to prepare teachers to systematically learn from their problems of practice (Shulman, 1986; Yendol-Hoppey & Franco, 2014). Despite evidence teacher inquiry leads preservice teachers (PSTs) to focus on student learning with the goal of improving practice (Capobianco, 2007; Dawson, 2006; Taylor & Pettit, 2007), research has yet to identify how beginning teachers approach their problems. Using a narrative methodology, this qualitative study interviewed two first-year teachers to glean insight into the problems of practice they identified, the inquiry related skills and dispositions that surfaced when they approached problems, and the barriers and facilitators to resolving challenges experienced in their elementary school context (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Findings include (a) novices identified problems related to instructional methods, collaborating with stakeholders and teaching special need students; (b) inquiry skills and dispositions were most evident when approaching problems related to students’ needs and instructional methods; (c) critical learning and emotional intelligence surfaced, though with varying levels of depth, depended on the identified problem of practice; (d) novices demonstrated awareness their instructional practices impacted students; (e) novices sought ways to drive change in practice; and (f) critical learning and reflective dispositions supported novices to regulate emotions. The study suggests several implications for school administrators, mentors, and teacher educators, such as (a) leading novices to see beyond classroom management; (b) emphasizing essential problem solving skills; (c) supporting novices when the nature of the problem of practice inhibits asking investigative questions; (d) communicating boundaries for novices to drive change; (e) fostering critical learning with reflective focus on student needs; (f) cultivating the symbiotic relationship between emotional intelligence, critical learning, and reflection; and (g) promoting the novice teacher researcher in a traditional novice teacher culture.