Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Pamela K. Beck


Reading education programs are responsible for developing effective teachers equipped with the foundational knowledge and instructional approaches to deliver a comprehensive and balanced literacy curriculum. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of teacher education reading programs on student teachers’ ability to understand and implement reading curriculum, assessment, and instruction, and to understand the extent to which students are transferring professional knowledge in practical ways. Participants of this explanatory sequential mixed methods study included 19 elementary spring student teachers from three Midwestern states. Quantitative data was collected through a survey sent to over 200 student teachers. Seven student teachers agreed to take part in the one-on-one interview phase of the mixed methods study and five of those participants sent reading lesson plans to be analyzed.

Data analysis of survey, interview, and lesson plan documents revealed that even though student teachers believed content learned from coursework and interactions with cooperating teachers and professors influenced their preparedness to teach reading, they attributed student teaching as having the strongest impact on their beliefs about teaching reading, because they were able to apply theory to practice. In addition, results indicated that while the majority of student teachers credited their preparation program for adequately preparing them in the areas of lesson planning, curriculum skills, assessment techniques, and instruction models, some student teachers criticized their preparation programs for low levels of self-efficacy attributed to lack of perceived knowledge and experience in applying reading beliefs to practice.

Results of this study hold several implications for theory and practice. First, teacher education programs should consider increasing the number of field experiences related to reading. Second, they should ensure that teacher educators and cooperating teachers are knowledgeable about best practices in reading curriculum, assessment, and instruction. Finally, an important goal for education programs is the need to create strong partnerships with elementary schools that are implementing best practices. Finding innovative ways to bridge the gap between theory and practice will remain on the forefront of teacher education programs’ agendas for decades to come.