Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Educational Leadership

Committee Director

Jay Paredes Scribner

Committee Member

Karen L. Sanzo

Committee Member

Cherng-Jyh Yen


Learning through social interactions in situated contexts represents a significant means by which teachers in schools learn their craft (Brown & Duguid, 1991; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Orr, 1996, Scribner, 1999). While research into the phenomenon of situated teacher learning exists, research into teacher’s learning and evolving expertise with the context of high stakes accountability environments is lacking to date (Boylan, 2010; Davies, 2005; Hodkinson & Hokinson, 2003; Pyrko, Dörfler, & Eden, 2017). This case study explored how teachers with 5-10 years of experience have learned in social and situated contexts. Teachers studied taught within two different subject areas within a large suburban high school. A multiple-case study approach involving interviews, observations, and document collection was used to explore the phenomenon through the lenses of legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) and communities of practice (CoP) as a means of understanding how teachers become more expert, what they focus their learning on and why, and how and to what extent external influences impact the learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). This study also explores implications for school administrators.

The findings of the study demonstrated how teachers learn through social interactions in situated contexts as seen through the theories and concepts of LPP and CoPs. The three findings demonstrated; 1) how teachers develop the concept of a master teacher and how that influences learning; 2) how the pressures relating to standardized testing impacts how teachers interact with each other and what they practice in the classroom; and 3) how external influences from state, district, or school levels influences the professional learning that occurs through social interactions in situated contexts. These findings contributed to studying professional learning in two ways; 1) Through demonstrating how teachers come to perceive the concept of a master teacher and how that influences their learning and; 2) By showing how external influences affect the work teachers do together. Additionally, this study also presents implications for practicing school leaders in designing professional development programs and in shaping the overall school climate.


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