Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Kathleen Wilson. Lincoln, Nebraska: February, 2011.

Copyright 2011 Carrie L. Kracl.


This case study explored the journey of four first grade teachers in their pursuit to improve the quality of their small group instruction time through increased engagement of students away from the small groups, thus allowing for quality instruction taking place in the small group. The teachers participated in professional development on literacy work stations that included video and an accompanying text. Based on the qualitative data from observations and interviews, all four teachers believed that the quality of their small group instruction improved with the implementation of literacy work stations through increased student engagement and motivation and the subsequent decrease in interruptions to the small group instruction.

Four themes emerged: The “I Can…” List, Schedule Issues, Group Numbers, and Professional Development – Teachers Seeking Feedback. The “I can…” lists allowed students to make decisions, work independently, increase engagement, and allowed the teacher to teach in the small group without interruptions.

Because schedule issues impacted the effectiveness of the small group instruction block and the implementation of literacy stations, teachers believed that the quality of the small group instruction block could be improved with longer periods of uninterrupted instruction, a decrease in the flow of students in and out of the class, and the inclusion of a paraprofessional in the classroom.

An additional theme regarding professional development emerged from this study. The four teachers continued to seek feedback and support in order to fully implement the instructional practices, making the professional development stronger.