Dissertation

Educators' Orientations to Teaching and Learning Within Changing Educational Paradigms: A Mixed Methods Study.

This mixed methods study analyzes the emergence of a recent learning theory—heutagogy—and studies its relevance to classroom teachers in terms of 21st-century skills and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). There is a lack of understanding within the field of P-12 education of the use of heutagogy as an educational orientation. Therefore, this study represents the perspectives of high school teachers regarding their educational orientation toward learning and teaching, and it attempts to explain the use, or lack of use, of heutagogical techniques by teachers in public, comprehensive high schools. In this explanatory sequential research study, survey data (N = 34) were first collected in a Southern California school district to explore educators’ educational orientations and then analyzed using descriptive statistics. Second, purposeful sampling from the survey data was used to write case profiles of three teachers with self-reported orientations consistent with each of three learning theories: pedagogy, andragogy, and heutagogy. The use of semistructured interviews and document review further enhanced the researcher’s understanding of teachers’ use of learning theories in their own classrooms and how educators perceived their readiness and execution of the CCSS. Overall, the quantitative research found that teachers in the district under study generally fell within the spectrum of high pedagogy to high andragogy; no teacher was found to be primarily linked with heutagogy. Teachers within the school district were found to be comparable in terms of educational theories, mostly aligning within the range of andragogy. Qualitative results indicate a need for the school district to encourage and support teacher efforts; recognize educators as learners and as professionals; adopt long-term professional development, especially in 21st century skills; and legitimize new learning theories to avoid fixed habits in administrators and educators. Although the limited sample size prevented forming conclusions about all teachers in the district, the findings suggest a progressive direction for the district. Educators reported relative alignment with andragogy and movement toward heutagogical practice, which may have a positive impact on the execution of the CCSS, possibly resulting in higher levels of student achievement and equitable student outcomes.

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