Middle School Content Area Teacher Perceptions, Attitudes, Beliefs and Implementation of Writing Activities

Middle School Content Area Teacher Perceptions, Attitudes, Beliefs and Implementation of Writing Activities

Author: 
Terri-Jo Brodeur
Program of study: 
Ed.D.
Abstract: 
The qualitative phenomenological study explored the lived experiences as represented in teacher perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and actual implementation of writing assignments in all content area classrooms. The study population consisted of 12 sixth through eighth grade content area classroom teachers in a Virginia middle school. The procedures for data collection entailed open-ended, face-to-face interviews and questioning to acquire non-numerical data appropriate for qualitative phenomenological research. Qualitative data gathered were analyzed and categorized. Eight major themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of the interview data using NVivo9 that included: (a) conducive learning environment, (b) personal writing experience influence, (c) writing exposure challenges, (d) teaching content, (e) learning in relation to writing, (f) learning to write, (g) real world connection to writing, and (h) educator training. Two minor themes were journaling and writing is thinking that emerged from a minority of participant responses. Study results offer insights into barriers teachers face in the pursuit of implementing writing in content classrooms. It is necessary to embrace the issues presented in an attempt to create new ways to increase writing efficacy and build writing ability. The findings indicated the need for providing the professional development needed to promote best practice. It was suggested additional research be conducted in the leadership responsibility of implementing an adaptable writing program. Further research was recommended to utilize a quantitative comparative or quasi-experimental study of the implementation of a cohesive writing across the curriculum program with a school that does not have a similar writing approach, and to utilize quantitative survey research instead of open-ended interviews.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to God and my husband for empowering me with the ability to set sail on this journey. God has provided the wings and the ability to know how to use them. My loving husband has provided the wind beneath them and the perseverance and motivation to keep them moving. To my wonderful husband, I thank you for the sacrifices you made on my behalf and the words of encouragement to keep moving forward. I also dedicate this dissertation to my wonderful children, Nikki, Tyler, and Kiley. You are my true inspiration for staying on course. I now dedicate my life to starting a new journey where the wind and sails provide endless opportunity.
Acknowledgements: 
Special people have given me the support and encouragement needed to navigate through this academic journey. My unconditional love goes to my husband and best friend, Scott, who has been my anchor through rough waters. He has been there for me at every time of need. My gracious thanks goes to my adoring children for all the inspiration they provided, as they never complained when mommy could not be at every play date or class function. They were my cheerleaders when I needed a quick boost and my gentle shoulder when I just needed a hug. My deepest thank you goes to my mentor, Dr. Shelley Fandel, who has always shown me patience, guidance, encouragement, and inspiration. Her leadership and expertise played a large role in my success. I appreciate the help from my committee members, Dr. Henson and Dr. Jindal, for their input in shaping my doctoral study. I would also like to extend a sincere thank you to the study participants who dedicated their time to the pursuit of educational research.