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College teachers' orientation to teaching: A comparative case study

Christine L Holmes, University of Massachusetts Amherst


A comparative case study was used to explored the orientations to teaching of three college teachers. The educational conceptions about teaching and classroom learning environments were investigated to determine how ideal orientations to teaching matched the reality of classroom practice. Each of the teachers was observed for the duration of eight class sessions (introductory level and upper level). Participants were interviewed on four occasions using a semi-structured interview format consisting of open-ended questions that focused on their conceptions of teaching and learning. Teachers' identified influences that affected their orientations to teaching and discussed their academic discipline, design and use of course syllabi, and their conceptions of students. Interpretation of the data revealed that the participants' ideal teaching orientation was based on their experience as a student and conceptions of the requirements of their academic discipline. Ideal teaching orientations were compromised based on a variety of contextual influences. The study builds theory on teaching orientations and forms a foundation for further research to investigate the influences of professional development, academic discipline, and gender on teaching orientation.

Subject Area

Higher education|Curricula|Teaching|Educational theory

Recommended Citation

Holmes, Christine L, "College teachers' orientation to teaching: A comparative case study" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152707.