Learning to Teach Writing: A Multiple Case Study of Elementary Preservice Teachers' Experiences Open Access
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This research investigated the experiences of six elementary preservice teachers as they learned to teach writing during a language arts methods course where they were immersed in a Writing Workshop. In addition, this study illuminates how five preservice teachers' experiences were transformative, according to Mezirow's theory of transformative learning (1991, 2000). A qualitative case study methodology was employed and data collection included three in-depth phenomenological interviews, observations of 13 course meetings, and documents written by participants as requirements of the course. First, participant data were analyzed inductively to describe each preservice teacher's experience. Across all cases, seven common categories of findings emerged: learning to write, start of course beliefs, course experiences, sharing writing, intern placement, course learning, and change in beliefs. Cross-case analysis revealed that preservice teachers experienced learning to teach writing through their beliefs about writing and themselves as writers; beliefs were informed by their prior experiences with writing, primarily K-12 school experiences. Strategies used by the instructor and course experiences - especially, ample opportunities to write, share writing, and take writing through the writing process - contributed to preservice teachers having more confidence in themselves as writers and less fears about writing. Five of the six preservice teachers had learning experiences that could be classified as transformative. Their transformation process included: 1) experiencing a disorienting dilemma sparked by an aspect of the course; 2) engaging in critical reflection to examine assumptions; 3) participating in discourse to better understand their experiences with writing; 4) trying out new ways of being a writer or writing teacher and gaining confidence in those new roles; and, 5) making plans to act on reframed perspectives of themselves as writers and writing teachers.This study concludes with a discussion of how the findings relate to the extant literature on learning to teach writing. In addition, the discussion suggests how using Mezirow's theory of transformative learning as a lens can enhance teacher educators' understandings, but also describes the five ways the researcher found using the framework problematic. Finally, recommendations for teacher educators are offered and future research topics are suggested.