The levels of teacher thought and the process of change

Paul Henry Wojcik, Fordham University


This study explored the thinking processes of four high school teachers during the progression of their respective lessons from their inception to reflective stages. It puts into action the theories of Schon (1983, 1987), Van Manen (1977, 1991, 2000), Marland (1977a, 1984), Marland and Osborne (1990), and Clark and Peterson (1981, 1986). This study emphasized qualitative methodology and analysis. Through the use of teacher journals, reflective interviews, and classroom videotaping a picture of teacher thought processes emerges that reveals the intricate paths a teacher follows throughout the course of a classroom lesson and its stated objectives. It reveals what a highly skilled profession classroom teaching in fact is. This study in many ways disproves the previously held positions of laboratory and elementary school studies that claim that the primary concern of the teacher during the course of a lesson is the students. It reveals instead that both experienced and inexperienced teachers are continually preoccupied with the fear of losing control and their desire to maintain order in the classroom. This fear of losing control proved to generate resistance to classroom interactive decision making, a variable that never surfaced or gained consideration in the simulated environment of the Clark and Peterson studies. The present study further revealed how teachers would prefer to adhere to their original lesson plans rather than pursue interactive thoughts to improve the course of a lesson primarily because the outcome might produce difficult to change or irreversible regression by the learners in the classroom. Through this study teachers can discover more about their thinking, including the philosophical beliefs that underlie their classroom practice and how they make decisions in the classroom and address student behaviors and classroom events. This study also enables teachers to recognize the dangers of an overemphasis on technical rationality and to probe the fears that are a brake on implementing change and that constitute effectiveness in reaching the learner. The protocols presented in this study, in particular interviews based on journals and videotaping to stimulate recall, are designed to serve as a model for teachers to establish a direction for classroom teaching improvement.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Teacher education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Wojcik, Paul Henry, "The levels of teacher thought and the process of change" (2003). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3084895.