When You've Seen One Rural Classroom, You've Seen One Rural Classroom: A Qualitative Multicase Study

McCool, Meredith, Curriculum and Instruction - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Brighton, Catherine, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

A tremendous range of communities, people, and circumstances comprise rural America. One of the things that rural places have in common, however, is the imperative to provide quality education to ensure the success of 9.8 million students (Johnson, Showalter, Klein, & Lester, 2014; Williams, 2010). Students in rural schools deserve high-quality teachers who understand the importance of place, value students’ lived experiences, and build appropriate teaching and learning opportunities (White & Reid, 2008). I embarked on the current study in order to generate a better understanding of teachers’ practices in one rural school division. In particular, through this study I explored how teachers in a rural school division conceptualize and enact their role as teachers in a rural context. Given the highly contextual nature of rural communities and the schools within those communities, to answer these research questions I used a qualitative multicase study design. I used the theoretical framework of activity theory to examine each case and make comparisons across cases. As a result of this study, I posit the following assertions, which have guided my recommendations for preparing teaching interns for this context:
• The teachers in this study conceptualize and consequently enact their role in different ways, which are particularly evident with respect to how the labor of teaching and learning is divided in their classrooms.
• The teachers in this study demonstrate characteristics of independence and interdependence, and those characteristics play a role in their selection of pedagogical tools that foster student autonomy and purposeful peer interactions.
• Although the teachers in this study select the same pedagogical tools that align with their characteristics of independence and interdependence, their implementation of those pedagogical tools varies based on how they conceptualize their role.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
rural education, teacher preparation
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