Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Earl Cheek, Jr


This descriptive multiple-case qualitative study focused on the professional and personal experiences of five novice teachers--three preservice student teachers and two first-year teachers. Research conducted in two exemplary elementary schools examined the following questions: (a) How do preservice and first-year teachers use reflective practice and self-assessment to develop effective teaching practices? (b) How do the preservice and first-year teachers' approaches to effective literacy instruction compare? (c) Why does reflection not translate into effectiveness? and (d) How is effectiveness perceived in the professional, social school environment of novice teachers? Results of the case studies determined that teacher education programs must go beyond providing their students with strong knowledge structures if new teachers are to survive in the trenches of public schools. Four assertions emerged in response to the research questions. First, reflection, a professional practice of self-assessment, requires initiation at the preservice level to insure integration into the classroom. Second, effectiveness is defined by approved practices of respected supervisors implemented through the individual personality preferences of inexperienced teachers. Third, reflection-in-practice is a difficult concept to internalize and requires the experience and confidence of purposeful, continuous practice. Finally, professionalization is dependent on school placement and influenced by the culture of that school. Results impact the teacher education program of these preservice students and inservice programs for new teachers and mentors. If competent, professional classroom teachers drive educational reform, the voices of these novice teachers provide insight into tools for success.