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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Darrell Earnest

Second Advisor

Erik Cheries

Third Advisor

Claire Hamilton

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Cognition and Perception | Cognitive Psychology | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Developmental Psychology | Educational Leadership | Educational Psychology | Educational Sociology | Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Elementary Education | Elementary Education and Teaching | Holistic Education | Humane Education | Multicultural Psychology | Other Psychology | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development | Personality and Social Contexts | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education | Race and Ethnicity | School Psychology | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education | Social Justice | Social Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology of Culture | Teacher Education and Professional Development | Theory and Philosophy | Theory, Knowledge and Science


Moral aspects of teaching arise each and every day, yet we lack information about how prepared teachers feel about this critical aspect of teaching. This multi-case study explores perceptions of five pre-service teachers in an elementary teacher education program in Western Massachusetts. A series of interviews explore their histories prior to the program and their experiences in the program as related to the pre-service teachers’ orientations to the moral work of teaching. Research questions address the awareness and self-efficacy of student teachers in implementing the moral aspects of teaching. Using Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clark, 2006), this study explores beliefs and contextual factors that may influence student teachers’ experiences of moral education. The results support the hypothesis that pre-service teachers believe teaching to be inherently moral, as described in the Moral Work of Teaching (Sanger & Osguthorpe, 2009) theory. Using Bandura’s (1997) Self-Efficacy Triangulation Theory, data were analyzed to determine the degree to which experiences in the teacher education program contributed to the participant’s self-efficacy for the moral work of teaching. There are three key findings of the present research. First, pre-service teachers are able to reflect upon and describe the various ways that teaching is inherently a moral act with appropriate prompting. Second, pre-service teachers indicate that they would have benefited from more formal preparation in the nuanced elements of the moral work of teaching, which has implications for their self-efficacy in this area. Lastly, there are nuances to the moral work of teaching that have been so far unidentified in the Moral Work of Teaching (Sanger & Osguthorpe, 2009) framework, specifically regarding Teaching Morally. This research seeks to contribute to the knowledge about new teachers’ dispositions towards and preparedness to support the moral education of their elementary students, with implications regarding coursework and practicum experience requirements in teacher education programs. More focus on this area to name the complex variables that influence a teacher’s skill and self-efficacy for Teaching Morally would likely improve outcomes from teacher preparation.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.