Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Swafford, Jeanne

Committee Member

Mathews, Jerry

Committee Member

Verhoek-Miller, Nancy

Committee Member

Hare, R. Dwight

Committee Member

Durrington, Vance

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Elementary Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


The National Reading Panel (2000) asserts that there is a lack of research related to beginning teachers once they enter the classroom for the first time. The purpose of this study was to understand how a first year teacher, who was a student in the researcher’s reading and language arts courses, used the knowledge she gained in her undergraduate program during her first year of teaching reading. Five research questions were posed for this study: (a) How did a first year teacher implement components associated with balanced literacy instruction, which she was taught in her undergraduate coursework? (b) How well prepared for teaching reading did a first year teacher perceive herself to be? (c) In what aspects of reading instruction did a first year teacher believe she needed support? (d) As the year progressed, how did the first year teacher’s implementation of balanced literacy instruction change? (e) How did the school context influence how the first year teacher taught reading? A qualitative case study design was used in this research study. The researcher was the instrument for data collection. Data were collected through interviews, observations, and teacher artifacts. One first year teacher participated in this study who was teaching for the first time during the 2006-2007 school year. Constant comparative analysis yielded five themes. The themes were balanced literacy instruction, preparedness, concerns, change, and enhancers. Balanced literacy instruction was implemented similar to the way the first year teacher was taught in her undergraduate coursework. The first year teacher believed she was prepared to teach reading, although she demonstrated personal initiative and desired to learn more during her first year. The areas of concern for the first year teacher were related to reading instruction and general concerns. Although her classroom instruction did not change, she did change her schedule. School-related contextual features such as coaching, mentor teacher, district workshops, and collegial peers supported teacher’s reading instruction. Recommendations for teacher educators and school administrators are described.