Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Earl Cheek, Jr


The beliefs that teachers hold about how children learn are often reflected in the instructional practices they use to help children become readers. The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) to identify teachers' beliefs regarding how reading takes place and how reading develops, (b) to examine the instructional reading practices implemented in teachers' classrooms, and (c) to explore the relationships between teachers' theoretical beliefs and their instructional practices in providing appropriate reading instruction. Qualitative methods informed this study by providing case studies of four primary grade teachers, giving detailed accounts of their theoretical beliefs--process and instruction. Two of the teachers held theoretical beliefs based on a top-down model of reading and utilized pedagogical practices associated with literature-based instruction. The other two teachers upheld beliefs characteristic of a bottom-up construct of reading and implemented skills-based instructional practices in their classrooms. The data obtained through surveys, interviews, and classroom observations revealed that there was a significant relationship between teacher beliefs and teacher activities. These results indicate that the beliefs teachers hold influence their behaviors in the classroom. Implications resulting from these findings could be instrumental in improving the professional preparation and teaching practices of teachers and teacher candidates, as it is essential that we provide them with opportunities to develop sound pedagogy that closely links successful classroom practices. By knowing and understanding what teachers do and why they do it, we will be better able to meet the reading needs of young readers.