Date of this Version
CREATING A CULTURE OF INQUIRY: STUDENT TEACHERS’ STORIES FROM THE WORLD OF THE GLASS BOX Judith J. Ruskamp University of Nebraska, 2009 Advisor: Margaret Macintyre Latta This study explores critical reflective practice as a way to study and systematically improve teaching and learning, instilling in teacher candidates a culture of inquiry where they purposefully negotiate the complexities of teaching and learning experiences. Understanding the work of teaching as such, entailing ongoing analysis of the challenges and opportunities teachers face in their classrooms and schools, requires time and space for a deliberate approach to this complex work. The task for teacher educators and for teacher preparation programs is to find ways to enable teacher candidates to successfully navigate the given relational complexities, furthering learning alongside developing strong teaching identities. Teacher educators and teacher education programs must ask what can be done to create a mindset in teacher candidates that encourages exploration and meaning-making as mediums for working with the relational complexities as productive for teaching and learning. Narrative inquiry serves as a medium for documenting and analyzing the perspectives and insights across all participants’ self-study. Data is gathered and analyzed from prospective teachers engaging in critical reflective practice via collaborative autobiographies of critical incidents, classroom observations, debriefing interview sessions, a questionnaire, and a follow-up interview over the course of one student teaching semester. Prospective teachers’ engagement in critical reflection through narrative inquiry chronicles both the tensions and the possibilities present within teaching and learning experiences, enlarging everyone’s perspectives and understandings regarding learners and learning. Engagement in critical reflection requires trusted and invested collaboration with other(s) manifesting a culture of inquiry. Findings suggest that a culture of inquiry provides prospective teachers with time and space to negotiate self-other relations. The resulting reflective turns foster teaching practices and teaching identities that are nurtured and sustained. The study concludes that teacher educators and teacher education programs should strive to create cultures of inquiry prompting reflective opportunities for discovering what counts as knowledge in specific teaching and learning experiences alongside importantly allowing for the evolution of teaching identities.