Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Monica W. Tracey


Teachers in K-12 education have a difficult and sometimes chaotic work life. However, the experts in the field make difference in the lives of the students they teach. These effects are seen even years after the course has ended. Quality teaching has been shown to affect employability and even wage attainment for students. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to find ways to view the role reflection plays in the practice of expert teachers and to enter the world of an expert teacher through their description and narrative of how they go about their practice. High School mathematics teachers in a Title I school system in the southwest United States participated in this study. Participants were both male and female math teachers, and had from twelve to twenty-eight years of classroom teaching experience. Class schedules included both block and traditional periods. Observation and interview were used to gain understanding of teachers' worldview. Repertory grid elicitations were used to record the constructs these teachers held regarding practice. It was found that the use of active learning, especially group work and tutoring, helped the students retain content at greater levels for superior performance on the Advanced Placement and other standardized tests. In addition, these exemplars exhibited a great degree of collegiality with others on the staffs in their schools and in professional conferences and other activities. They used routine and structure to build a safe place for students to learn. Their respect and warm regard for students was evident throughout the study. Teacher-student relationships were important and shown to be nurtured. The teachers studied were shown to believe that their practice was a partnership in learning with their students. They were always available for tutoring and to help the students in their efforts to comprehend the material and achieve high marks on standardized tests. The performance of these students reaches some of the highest levels in the nation. The aim is to better understand how expert teachers think about their practice, and how they use reflection to achieve superior performance in the classroom.