Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Early Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Kathryn Laframboise, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Applegate, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roger Brindley, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.


Preservice teacher education, Writing teachers, Belief development, Case study, Writing apprehension


My study examined the belief development of three preservice teachers as they learned to teach writing in a one-semester elementary writing methods course. I also sought to identify significant episodes that contributed to the preservice teachers’ belief development. Two questions guided my inquiry: How do preservice teachers’ beliefs about writing and the teaching of writing develop while enrolled in an elementary writing methods course? and What episodes do preservice teachers, who are enrolled in an elementary writing methods course, view as significant in helping them negotiate their beliefs about writing and writing instruction? I collected survey data, conducted a series of in-depth interviews, and completed 12 classroom observations during the data collection phase of my study. From those data sources, I generated descriptive statistics and followed constant comparative methods to analyze my transcripts and fieldnotes.

Using data from two surveys administered on the first day the writing methods course met, I employed stratified purposeful sampling strategy in order to select three case study participants with varied orientations toward writing instruction: Skylar, Natasha, and Samantha. I developed three case study descriptions and conducted cross-case analysis in order to answer both of my research questions. Based upon data from the Writing Instruction Orientation Survey, from classroom observations, and from in-depth interviews, I considered belief development along a continuum from product-orientation to process-orientation for each case study participant at the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester.

The belief development of all three case study participants moved toward a process-orientation of writing instruction by the end of the semester, which was the observed orientation of the instructor in the writing methods course. The three preservice teachers identified learning experiences that required the application of information from readings and class meetings as significant in their belief development. Those assignments included shared writing assignment and in-class writing time and creation of an original publishable piece of writing. One case study participant also identified small group activities conducted in class as significant.

The case study participants varied in their application of author’s craft language that matched their emerging process-oriented beliefs. Skylar’s and Natasha’s beliefs about writing instruction evolved from an eclectic orientation at the beginning of the semester to a process-orientation at the end of the semester. They demonstrated a limited ability to apply author’s craft language to match their emerging beliefs. Samantha began the semester holding process-oriented beliefs about writing instruction and grew significantly in her application of author’s craft language that matched her beliefs. These three case study participants experienced varied growth in their ability to talk the talk of a process-oriented writing teacher. The experiences of these three preservice teachers suggest that preservice teachers acquire the ability to recognize teacher behaviors the match their beliefs about writing instruction before their ability to apply the language to accompany emerging beliefs develops. The acquisition of professional discourse to talk about emerging beliefs varied depending on the readiness level of the individual.

Findings from my inquiry indicate that teacher educators should consider intentionally designing writing methods courses to include assignments and experiences that involve the application of presented information and developing understandings as a means to foster belief development. This type of opportunity might include field experiences directly related to course assignments, as was the case with the shared writing assignment in my study. Teacher educators might also create situations that allow preservice teachers to apply author’s craft language so that they grow in their ability to talk the talk of a writing teacher. The development of professional discourse is a marker of membership in any community of practice. As preservice teachers work to gain entry into the teaching profession, it should be expected that their ability to apply language of that community develop along a continuum.