Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Mary Baker


The COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 prompted the first nationwide extended educational disruption, resulting in many challenges for teachers as they were forced to a distance teaching and learning model. Educators modified curricular content, delivery, and assessment methods to accommodate and engage learners and maintain academic expectations while at the same time attempting to mitigate undue stress for their students. Teachers met this task with little to no adaptive expertise to draw from, as few had previous experience with distance teaching. Constructivist theory guided this qualitative study exploring teachers’ experiences in distance learning through a lens of adaptive expertise. A phenomenological approach was applied to data acquired through two rounds of interviews with teachers. The data was analyzed through an iterative process of coding, creating categories, and identifying emerging themes. The findings indicate that during the periods of distance learning, teachers modified their course content due to an imposed time constraint, delivery method, and desire not to overwhelm students. These modifications impacted academic rigor and continuity, as well as the assessment of student learning. Additionally, teachers’ priorities changed from that of academic progress to that of student well-being. Other teacher takeaways include applications for their future practice in both the traditional and distance learning settings and reflections on how their experiences in distance learning during the spring of 2020 could impact their future as educational professionals.