Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Claudia Santin


Heeding current best practice, many teachers prioritize student-centered instruction as the most effective pedagogy to achieve student learning. However, preservice teachers at a small, southeastern U.S. university have expressed reservations in executing student-centered instructional methods when they become lesson facilitators. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine whether probational elementary teachers have the knowledge and skill set to execute student-centered instruction and identify the characteristics of this method based on their preservice experiences. The conceptual framework consisted of constructivist, humanism, and social learning, theories . The four research questions focused on participants' understanding of student-centered and teacher-centered pedagogical methods, whether or not their understandings changed in practice, and what factors influenced those changes. Purposeful sampling provided 5 probationary elementary teachers who had graduated from the same university. Data included 3 semistructured interviews, 2 classroom observations, and a review of instructional materials. Data were inductively coded and analyzed throughout the collection process. Findings revealed that each participant practiced and could theoretically identify the characteristics of both student-centered and teacher-centered methods; however, they could not identify these characteristics consistently in their own practices. Findings indicated that preservice teachers needed more exposure to student-centered pedagogy. Teachers who develop proficiency with student-centered pedagogy may be better able to empower students to solve problems, make decisions, advocate, and negotiate relationships with others. These characteristics are the foundation for active citizenship making positive social change possible.