A teacher's work activities: An analysis of a teacher's journal

Mary Kathleen Figlear Malu, Fordham University


This case study of a teacher's work activities from the teacher's perspective informed an understanding of the nature of teaching and learning particularly on the college level. It analyzed the published journal of one tenured professor, Beyond the Tenure Track: Fifteen Months in the Life of a University Professor by James Phelan. The investigator used hypothesis-generating methodology in the analysis. Significantly, findings were discovered as the investigator changed her lens of focus from journal entries to the participant's daily perspective, and finally to a holistic perspective, viewing the data as stories, not just journal entries. Recursive analyses of data and consultation with the participant were used to triangulate the findings. The findings of this study indicate differences between a teacher's daily perspective of work activities and a holistic perspective of activities. From the participant's perspective work activities were: figuring out stories, seeking external validation, teaching, and serving. From the researcher's holistic perspective, they were: telling stories and performing tasks. Hypotheses generated were: (1) Conflicts between a teacher's rhetoric and that individual's practice may influence learning. (2) Trust and reflection may be significant in a teacher's work life. (3) Trusting, collaborative teaching settings where individuals engage in personally meaningful activities may have different outcomes from other teaching settings. (4) Institutional requirements may influence teacher and student learning. (5) An individual's expressed satisfaction with her stories may mark that individual's learning retrospectively. The study recommends that conflicts between teacher-stated beliefs and practices need to be explored further. These conflicts are important to understand within the context of the school reform movement as new schools are created with new models of teaching and learning. Meaningful student-centered activities and expanded blocks of time, particularly at the university level, should be used to enhance learning for teachers and students. Explorations of teaching and learning from teachers' perspectives should be conducted at all levels of education. The relationship between publishing, learning, and teaching at the university level needs to be promoted in faculty personnel decision making.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Malu, Mary Kathleen Figlear, "A teacher's work activities: An analysis of a teacher's journal" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9412140.