Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert C. Lafayette


Within the broader issue of teacher education, the focus of this study is on one of the most neglected areas of inquiry in the field of foreign languages, the preservice field experience, and the development of student teachers' perspectives of foreign language teaching. The following questions were specifically addressed: (1) What perspectives of foreign language teaching do student teachers hold upon completion of their program of university courses? (2) Is there an alteration of student teachers' perspectives of foreign language teaching during their student teaching semester? (3) What factors appear to influence student teachers' perspectives of foreign language teaching during their student teaching semester? Berlak & Berlak's concept of "dilemmas" underlies the formulation of these objectives, the choice of the method of inquiry, the choice of instruments, the procedures for collecting data and for their analysis, and the reporting of the findings. The perspectives of five foreign language student teachers attending a major American university were examined during their 15-week field experience at the middle and high school levels. The most appropriate framework for this study was the naturalistic paradigm. Multiple methods were used to collect data from the five preservice teachers, the five cooperating teachers, the university Clinical Experiences Office, the methods instructor, and the participating schools. A variety of instruments were used to collect data, including biographical questionnaires and essays, reflective pre-student teaching writings, Teacher Beliefs Inventory and Conceptions of Foreign Language Teaching questionnaires, dialogue journals, observations and interviews supported by video- and audio-tapes, and teacher materials. Data were processed using constant comparative analysis to identify the dominant themes throughout the study. Member check, peer debriefing, triangulation, referential adequacy materials, thick description, prolonged engagement, persistent observation, and independent audit, were employed to increase dependability, transferability, and confirmability, while safeguarding against loss of credibility. Conclusions and implications for policy, practice, and future research were suggested by this study. Theoretical and methodological issues in studying the development of teachers' perspectives were addressed. While the results cannot be generalized to the entire population of student teachers or teachers, they contribute to understanding the process of learning how to teach.