Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

David England


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between preservice teachers' expressed beliefs, their practices, and how they described the two. Particular emphasis was given to factors that influenced the preservice teachers' expectations of students. The preservice teachers were in the graduate year of a five year teacher education program that embraced reflective practice. In many ways, the two preservice teachers conformed to the mold of the typical American teacher in that they were middle class, Anglo Saxon, females who were high achievers from small towns. However, the pair differed in their experiences with diversity. The preservice teachers' beliefs and practices were determined through qualitative methodologies including participant observation, interviews, audio recording, and field notes. School records, teachers' lesson plans, reflective journals, and students' work were analyzed as supportive data. Analysis of data revealed that the preservice teachers were closely aligned in their fundamental beliefs about their students and about teaching. Beliefs and practices generally revolved around issues of academics and behavior. Themes that were explored were (1) respecting diversity, (2) independence, and (3) conscientiousness. The preservice teachers' expectations were influenced by various experiences and factors from early childhood through teacher preparation. Factors identified in this study included influential individuals, participants' sense of efficacy, their perceptions of teachers' roles, family and community, the fourth grade students, the general atmosphere of the school, interactions with each other, and their reflections. The preservice teachers credited the cooperating teacher as having the most influence on their development as teachers. Results indicated that the preservice teachers valued the pairing that allowed them to become dialogue partners. Pairing and reflection helped them to better understand the students, make changes throughout the semester, and work more effectively as teachers.