Experienced Teachers' Construals of the Teacher's Role Across the Historical Process

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Year of Completion


First Advisor

Paula Lester


Understanding the role of the public school teacher and how that role has changed over recent history is critical to comprehending the nature of teaching and teachers in American schools. This 2-phase, hypothesis-generating study was undertaken to develop a deeper understanding of the role of the teacher and, in particular, the ways that role has remained stable or changed across the historical process. It explored how the role of the teacher is construed by current, experienced teachers through personal construct systems and through their shared enactments of a social construct system proposed as an extension to personal construct theory. Departing from the traditional disciplinary approaches that have characterized much of the previous research on this topic and which have been limited in scope and method by their associated paradigms, this study adopted an interdisciplinary, mixed methods approach that integrated the perspectives of several disciplines and professional fields. It employed the repertory grid technique (RGT) from personal construct theory to elicit personal constructs from 16 experienced teachers in intensive RGT interviews to identify shared constructs. Those shared constructs were then employed as an inferred social construct system in an anonymous online survey of experienced practicing teachers (n = 258) to identify the ways in which that social construct system is enacted in construing the role of the teacher across the historical process, envisioning the future role of the teacher, and perceiving the ideal role. Latent class analysis indicated heterogeneity in teachers' views regarding the role and substantial perceived change across recent history, suggesting a lack of role consensus. The study also compared the participants' views of the ideal role of the teacher with their expectations for the future. The findings have implications for future research and for educational theory, policy, and practice.