First Advisor

Micki Caskey

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Student Teachers, Teachers -- Training of, Educational change



Physical Description

1 online resource (216 p.)


The American education system has two daunting challenges. First, citizens need to be able to function in an interdependent world. Second, public schools' demographics have changed dramatically. Schools are failing to reach many students, particularly children of color and poverty. Schools must change to meet the needs of 21st century students. Without teachers' openness to change, effective educational reform win fail. Schools of education must prepare the next generation of teachers to be change agents who will implement school reform to meet the significantly different requirements of 21st century students.

This study examined how one graduate teacher education program prepared teachers to be teacher change agents. The construct of teacher change agent incorporates research on successful school reform. In order for teachers to function as change agents they must (a) be competent, (b) be lifelong learners, and (c) have a sense of agency.

A triangulation mixed-method design was used to examine a teacher education program's development of teacher change agents from various angles. The quantitative component of the study entailed the comparison of data from a scale administered at four different stages of teacher development. Graduates self-reported their frequencies of behaviors reflective of teachers open to change. The study's qualitative component included the examination of six professional portfolios, interviews with the portfolio's authors, and written responses to open-ended survey questions from a pool of 282 participants.

Findings showed that all participants reported at least moderate levels of behaviors reflective of teacher change agents. Each of the interviewees reflected all dimensions of teacher change agents. In the larger sample, areas of strength included caring for students' emotional and academic well-being, and reflecting on one's practice. Participants reported the most beneficial elements of their preservice experience to be the extensive fieldwork and the collaborative cohort model. The cohort model and working with inspiring professors who modeled deep caring for students helped sustain participants' passion for teaching. Areas of weakness included teachers' willing to give students voice, embracing ideas of colleagues and families, and using community resources to enhance their teaching. These areas need to be developed more fully in the preservice program.


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