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The Realities and Possibilities of Fast-Tracked Teacher Preparation: A Longitudinal Case Study of Alternatively Certified Teachers’ Learning and Instruction

  • Author(s): Zinger, Doron
  • Advisor(s): Kang, Hosun
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

The Realities and Possibilities of Fast-Tracked Teacher Preparation: A Longitudinal Case Study of Alternatively Certified Teachers’ Learning and Instruction


Doron Zinger

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

University of California, Irvine, 2018

Assistant Professor Hosun Kang, Chair

Alternative teacher credentialing programs (ATCPs) have grown over the last two decades to address persistent staffing shortages in high-need schools. Today, nearly a quarter of new teachers are prepared though these programs. Nonetheless, there are few studies that examine teacher candidates’ learning as facilitated by these programs, or their early career instruction. This two-study dissertation longitudinally examines the learning and teaching experiences of four science teacher candidates as they prepared for and taught in high-need urban schools. Employing a qualitative multiple-case study approach, the first study investigates: (a) the type and nature of learning experiences provided by a practice-based summer teaching program as part of an alternative certification program; and (b) four science teacher candidates’ learning through the five-week summer program. Data sources included field notes and audio recordings from 18 days of observation, interviews, and instructional artifacts. Findings indicated that candidates experienced the program as: (a) learners of teaching; (b) instructional planners; (c) practitioners of teaching; and (d) reflective teachers. All candidates took up classroom management and routinization tools, and shifted from direct instruction to more activity-based instruction. Some candidates took up additional tools. The second study followed the teacher candidates into their own first year classrooms as they became teachers of record and investigated: (a) the nature of the instructional settings of these first year ATCP graduates; and (b) the nature of science instruction of the ATCP graduates in their first year teaching, focusing on the instructional tools they used. Data sources included classroom observations, interviews, and instructional artifacts. We found that more constraining, high-need school conditions derailed two of the teacher candidates from teaching science. Additionally, teacher candidates’ instruction focused on maintaining an orderly and organized classroom through routinization. Tools used for establishing routines and order originated in the teacher candidates’ preparation program, with more successful cases taking-up additional tools as they worked to routinize their classrooms. These studies raise questions about the instructional expectations of high-need schools and the preparation programs that work to meet these expectations. Specifically, the overwhelming focus on classroom management and order were at odds with the expectations for student scientific sense-making advocated for by researchers and educational standards.

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