Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Patricia Jones

Keywords

academic coaching, professional development, teacher learning, writing instruction

Abstract

The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to explore the roles, responsibilities, and perceptions of writing coaches, a form of embedded professional development, which had the opportunity to assist teachers in deepening their pedagogical knowledge of writing instruction. Furthermore, this inquiry sought to describe middle school teachers' (N = 235) perceptions of how writing coaches may have impacted their beliefs and pedagogy with regard to writing instruction. At the time I conducted this case study, no extant literature existed to describe the roles, responsibilities, or perceptions of writing coaches, and this inquiry sought to fill that void.

In an intrinsic case study, the researcher's own interests guide the inquiry. Qualitative data from interviews, observations, and archival data informed the inquiry. Furthermore, a non-experimental quantitative survey complemented the qualitative data. I analyzed qualitative data as I collected it through constant-comparative analysis beginning with open coding of individual cases, proceeding to axial coding across site cases, and finishing with selective coding across site cases, at which point I integrated relevant empirical research. I reported descriptive statistics for the non-experimental quantitative survey data.

The findings of this inquiry do not generalize to other populations, but the results of data analysis may inform future study and practice. I uncovered teachers regarded the writing coaches in this inquiry positively, but did not explicitly communicate any change in beliefs or practice with regard to writing instruction. Furthermore, I discovered although writing coaches are deemed "coaches," they spend more of their time performing responsibilities which categorize them as teachers and administrators. A posteriori data trends revealed writing coaches faced many challenges: high-stakes testing, unclear roles and responsibilities, balance of their many roles and responsibilities, micromanagement, and inability to impact teacher practice. Lastly, I outline a model, which requires future testing under experimental conditions, to explain how the challenges writing coaches face may serve to lower their loci of control, perceptions of effectiveness, and job satisfaction.

The themes I discovered through data analysis led me to make recommendations with regard to future research and practice. This inquiry described three writing coaches' roles, responsibilities, and perceptions, but future study, both qualitative and quantitative, is needed to more fully describe and explore the phenomenon. The model I developed through qualitative data collect and analysis would require testing in inquiries with an experimental design. I recommend future research in the causal cascade to discover how the efforts of writing coaches and other academic coaches may impact teacher pedagogy and practice and eventually student learning. Furthermore, I endorse future studies into academic coaches' loci of control and challenges. Although this study sought to explore the roles, perceptions, and perceived impact of writing coaches, it truly became a study of the challenges perceived by writing coaches and the factors which may contribute to job dissatisfaction and perceived ineffectiveness. For this reason, I make specific recommendations to support writing coaches in their attempts to perform their jobs excellently.

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