Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Lienne Medford

Committee Member

Dr. Dolores Stegelin

Committee Member

Dr. Beatrice Bailey

Committee Member

Dr. Hans Klar


This study is an analysis of the depth of reflection exhibited in written documents produced by English teacher candidates. Description and insights were drawn into the reflective thinking of the undergraduate teacher candidates in the context of teacher research essays that they produced. Reflection is widely viewed as enabling teacher candidates to make connections between actions and consequences as well as between theory and practice. Teacher education programs are encouraged by accreditation agencies to adopt a framework that helps teacher candidates to reflect on practice. However, there is no broadly accepted protocol in place for determining depth of reflection that is demonstrated by teacher candidates. Further, assessment of reflection is too often characterized by subjective rather than objective analysis. A four-category protocol developed by David Kember and colleagues provided guidance toward an assessment of the depth of reflection. No published study in the field of English Education has analyzed depth of reflection in the written work of teacher candidates with guidance from this protocol. I rated the depth of reflection as one of four categories: non-reflection, understanding, reflection, or critical reflection. Judgment of the depth of reflection for a teacher research essay is based on the highest level of reflection observed in the whole essay. I also engaged in content analysis of the teacher research essays in order to make inferences about the broader context of the written work of the teacher candidates, and systematically investigate the content of the teacher research essays. I describe the depth of reflection of teacher candidates as they address strengths and deficiencies they identified in their own instruction. Each of the eight teacher research essays in the study were coded either as reflective or as critically reflective, indicating that all student teachers made relationships between conceptual knowledge and the experience of student teaching. One teacher research essay showed evidence of critical reflection, or a change in a fundamental belief about teaching. An English teacher education program would be able to use the results of this analysis as evidence of reflective thinking demonstrated in the writing of teacher candidates. Kember's four category protocol provides guidance for teacher educators to assess the depth of reflection demonstrated in writing by teacher candidates through a protocol that has been reliably tested. Use of the protocol can help a teacher educator and a teacher education program to make more informed decisions about ways to improve instruction to foster candidates who will become reflective teachers. Kember's four category protocol can be useful as part of a goal of a teacher-education program to facilitate reflective thinking and reflective teaching among teacher candidates. The protocol can be useful as part of a goal of a teacher education program to facilitate reflective thinking and reflective teaching among candidates. When the aim of a teacher education program includes developing teachers who will be reflective practitioners, the use of a validated protocol to assess depth of reflection in the writing of teacher candidates is beneficial toward monitoring and reporting progress toward that goal.

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