Date of Award

Spring 2007

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

William Wansart


This ethnography investigates the cultural construction of reflection about teaching. The central setting was a two-semester practicum and seminar course in college teaching for psychology Ph.D. candidates in their third year of study at a four-year public university, Key participants were two male and two female doctoral students. Other participants included the two tenured faculty members who supervised the practicum and seminar.

Reflection was defined as the purposeful deliberation of anticipated and/or past teaching behavior, and included examination of relevant assumptions, values and beliefs. The purpose of the study was to describe and understand the reflective processes about teaching demonstrated by key participants operating within the setting.

Methods included participant observation over two semesters of the practicum and seminar; semi-structured interviews; observation of participant teaching; and collection of teaching artifacts. Data analysis included construction of field notes and memos, the coding of information units, and the use of an interpretive framework on reflective thinking. Case studies were developed for each key participant using a narrative and analysis approach.

This study revealed that participant reflection was influenced by a variety of factors, including the belief systems and experiences of participants, and the social and structural elements of the practicum and seminar. Individual participants demonstrated significantly different meanings of reflection, and their behaviors indicated that the development of reflective attitudes is a continuous negotiation between self and environment. The nature of problem framing emerged as a significant factor in determining the nature of reflective behavior. Results indicate a need for future inquiry into the elements influencing the reflective process of novice university teachers.