Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Norton Meier, Lori A.

Author's Keywords

Theoretical orientation; Literacy; Kindergarten; Teacher beliefs


Kindergarten teachers--Attitudes; Reading (Primary)


Using case-study analysis, this dissertation is a qualitative examination of kindergarten teachers’ beliefs, theoretical orientation toward reading, and outside pressures and their impact upon the educators’ classroom practice for literacy instruction. Selected for the study based upon their scores on DeFord’s Theoretical Orientation to Reading Profile (1985), eight teachers participated in two in-depth interviews and two separate 30-minute classroom observations for which they provided lesson plans. They also completed the Reading Interest-A-Lyzer (Reis, 2005). The results were coded with a coding scheme developed around the Theoretical Orientation to Reading Profile and Vygotsky’s Activity Theory—the theoretical framework for the current study. Constant comparative data analysis was used to make connections and construct meaning. Data were collected twice before an initial analysis and followed by a third gathering of information before the final analysis. Research questions for this study were examined using the original survey results for the eight case study teachers as well as qualitative data gathered through interviews, observations, and artifact collection. A cross-case analysis reveals that regardless of educational background and despite differing self-reported theoretical orientations to reading, all eight kindergarten teachers consistently taught from a phonics-based orientation. Building upon Vygotsky’s Activity Systems theory, the concept of interdependent activity systems also emerged within the study and suggests that teachers are constantly balancing multiple activity systems in their daily work. A nexus of practice exists at the center of this new theory of interdependent activity systems - the point at which teachers are making decisions and implementing classroom practice drawn upon experiences from all their activity systems to create authentic learning opportunities for their students. Implications for teacher preparation programs, policymakers, and practitioners are discussed.