Stories of the past and present:what preservice secondary English teachers draw on when learning to teach writing

Open Access
Olan, Elsie L
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
March 01, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Angiline Louisa Whitney, Dissertation Advisor
  • Angiline Louisa Whitney, Committee Chair
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Member
  • James F Nolan Jr., Committee Member
  • Roger C Shouse, Committee Member
  • writing
  • preservice secondary English teachers
  • teacher education
  • stories
  • pedagogical tools
  • inquiry assignment
  • SCT
  • SCAT
The purpose of this study was to explore what stories preservice secondary English teachers (PSETs) draw on when learning to teach writing and how, if at all, does an inquiry assignment in a methods course serve as a tool for PSETs to address the teaching of writing. This study encompassed a convenience sample of four preservice secondary English teachers’ (PSETs) learning, teaching, and writing instruction experiences as they engage in invitations (class assignment and researcher’s artifacts) in their Language and Literacy methods course (LL ED XXX). It utilized a qualitative inductive design. The constant comparison process supported the existing sociocultural activity theory approach. Findings from this study indicated firstly, that PSETs drew on contrasted stories of past and present experiences in one of three thematic categories: stories about a beloved teacher, about writing, and about authenticity. PSETs invoked different forms of telling their stories, such as sharing informed incidents, disclosing uncertainties, and/ or beliefs and expectations. They identified and noted contrasts between their own learning experiences as students and the beliefs they had come to hold about pedagogy via methods courses and preteaching experiences. Secondly, PSETs contrasted their stories of past and present experiences when engaging in certain invitations (the Problems of Practice (PP) inquiry project, proposal for PP, interview, and prompted reflection writing about the PP) during their methods course. These invitations elicited storytelling and reflection, and PSETs reliving and contrasting of past and present experiences as they retold teacher or learning stories where they articulated their pedagogical practice, beliefs and professional identity. This study presented ways PSETs think about teaching writing and the kinds of stories they draw on when learning to teach writing in a methods course. These findings are helpful for the academic community, higher education and PSETs because valuable knowledge will aide and familiarize teacher educators with PSETs’ ways of thinking when learning to teach writing. It allows methods course educators to use these assignments to open a nonthreatening space where PSETs articulate their beliefs, values, ideas, and experiences about writing and writing instruction.