Theses and Dissertations


Li-Ching Hung

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Xu, Jioanzhong

Committee Member

Sheperis, J. Carl

Committee Member

Brocato, Kay D.

Committee Member

Looby, Joan E.

Committee Member

Coats, T. Linda

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Hare, Dwight R.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Several states introduced alternative certification (AC) programs in the mid-1980s to alleviate the teacher shortage situation, and the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program is an example of just such a curriculum. Three research questions for this study were: 1) what were the challenges beginning MAT teachers faced? 2) what were beginning MAT teachers? perceptions of their training program?, and 3) what were the beginning MAT teachers? attitudes toward their teaching career? Case methodology was conducted to highlight the research questions. Six beginning MAT teachers that graduated from Mississippi State University participated in this study. Data were drawn from interviews, observations, and a concomitant related document analysis. Results revealed three themes as challenges for the majority of MAT teachers: (a) students? low motivation, (b) No Child Left Behind (NCLB)ountability, and (c) lack of parental support. In terms of perception regarding their training program, all six MAT teachers exhibited gratefulness for their training programs availability, especially for the opportunity to gain teacher licensure. In addition, they reported they were confident about their teaching preparation. However, some teachers agreed that there was room for improvement. All participants suggested the following as potential enhancements for their MAT program: (a) exhibit more specificity concerning program requirements, (b) contain more content knowledge courses, (c) assign a mentor, (d) make the certification process easier and less complicated, and (e) add any training applicable to their future teaching career. Again, these findings could be perceived as guidelines for the improvement of the MAT program and as methods for ensuring effective AC teachers graduate from the training program. Among the six participants, five wanted to quit teaching in the near future, with only one, an older second career seeker teacher, deciding to remain in the profession. Most importantly, she was the only one whose previous educational background and job experience were the same as the subject she taught. The above findings filled several research gaps when compared with previous studies. For example, there is an inconsistency between MAT teachers? licensure area and content knowledge background. Further studies are needed to investigate samples of graduates from other AC programs.