Type of Document Dissertation Author Barrett, Thomas S. Jr. Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-11597-114041 Title Exploring the Moral Dimension of Professors' Folk Pedagogy Degree PhD Department Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Magliaro, Susan G. Committee Chair Billingsley, Bonnie S. Committee Member Burton, John K. Committee Member Lalik, Rosary V. Committee Member Roberto, Karen A. Committee Member Wilder, J. Edwin Committee Member Keywords
- narrative analysis
- moral discourse
- higher education
- moral education
Date of Defense 1997-12-01 Availability unrestricted AbstractExploring the Moral Dimension of Professors' Folk Pedagogy
This study explores the intersection of two major conceptions in higher education:
professors' folk pedagogies and teaching's moral dimension. Folk pedagogy is the
accumulated set of beliefs, conceptions and assumptions that professors personally hold
about the practice of teaching (Bruner, 1996). When these beliefs and conceptions are
enacted as a teaching practice, they are conceivably undertaken on behalf of students as the
means to a good end. Professors, in the course of enacting their folk pedagogies, make
educational decisions -- value determinations in essence -- about what they believe are in
the best interests of their students. In so doing they have entered moral territory. To make
these decisions, issues related to moral perception, moral imagination, and moral
responsiveness are present. This moral dimension of teaching was found in this study to
be an inherent feature of the participants' folk pedagogy.
Pursuing tangible exemplars of these ideas, this study accomplished three key
objectives. First, it explored and described some key features of professors' folk
pedagogies. Second, it examines the discourse that emerged from the folk pedagogy
investigation for its moral expressions and the insights it offered toward understanding
how professors conceive of teaching as a moral endeavor. Finally, using narrative analysis
as the guiding methodology, it retold professors' personal narratives - their discursive
practices - as a unified story of moral agency and moral discourse in university teaching.
These objectives were satisfied through case study investigations of three professors,
wherein each participant professor was interviewed and observed teaching over the course
of nine weeks.
Although this investigation sought to explore moral discourse, four additional
discourses were discovered interacting with the moral discourse - the personal discourse, a
professional discourse, an academic discourse, and the institutional discourse. It was
found that rather than there being one singular moral discourse, each independent discourse
possessed its own moral substance. A full view of the moral discourse, therefore, can only
be achieved by looking across all of the independent discourses themselves.
Interestingly, the nature of the moral discourse and moral agency varied for each
professor depending upon which independent discourse dominated her or his practice. For
example, those professors engaged in professional disciplines (i.e., business and
engineering) exhibited practices dominated by what is termed here a professional discourse. In contrast, the practice of the philosophy professor was dominated by the academic
discourse. In each case, however, the moral discourse revealed itself most often when
professors' engaged in closer, more personal interactions with students and during their
consideration of students in their course planning. Moral discourse and moral agency for
the professors in this study played an important role in their overall folk pedagogy and in
many instances served as an unintentional pedagogical tool.
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