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Guided by the central question "How do professional development opportunities regarding the use of running records effect the thinking and practice of veteran teachers ?", this study investigated the way in which eight highly experienced literacy teachers learned to use formative assessment to guide instruction of a student at risk of failure in reading. From the most veteran teacher with thirty-three years to the "baby" with fifteen years of service to children, they represented a seasoned group of early childhood professionals willing to grapple with formative assessment, a concept for which all admitted they had been ill-prepared. Through this action research project, intentionally undergirded by constructivist principles, the researcher facilitated a series of eight study groups designed to engage these seasoned educators in the challenges of change. Participants engaged in structured interviews, coding and analysis of focal students' running records, audiotaped reading lessons and journal writing. They videotaped administrations of the Developmental Reading Assessment which, in turn, served as teaching vehicles facilitating collegial and systematic observation of students' literacy skills. All focal students made significant gains. The study's overarching aim was to elucidate a paradigm of professional development that recognizes the distinctive learning needs of veterans as articulated by veterans. Sub questions included: •How do veterans perceive and report shifts in their thinking in regards to assessment "now and then"? •What particular aspects of this professional development experience do veterans say support these shifts? What is challenging to them? •In what observable /measurable ways can these shifts in thinking be linked to changes in assessment practices? •To what extent does context [classroom /school /system] impact thinking shifts and accompanying changed practices? Data analysis leads the researcher to draw the following implications about professional development for the highly experienced educator: 1) professional support requires co-construction based on self-analysis interwoven with systemic requirements 2) veterans value and seek time to observe and reflect upon actual student work with research as an informant 3) although content is critical, format with opportunities to practice new strategies and take risks, mentored by a knowledgeable colleague, appears to be more transformative 4) collegial interaction can make or break the teacher's disposition to learn and grow in a school; research participants were adamant about the need for generous direct and indirect support of the principal in this regard.



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