Teacher Education, Teacher Preparation


The purpose of this study was to explore teacher preparation program content throughout American history in order to determine trends in programs of study, specifically including coursework in education foundations, teaching methods involving the behavioral sciences, and subject area content. These categories were selected because their content is responsible for teachers' working knowledge of their subject area, as well as student learning, behavior management and motivation. The study also examined documented teacher knowledge voids: student behavior management, time management, organization, dealing with parents, motivating students, and meeting individual students' needs to determine which aspects of teacher education could improve teachers' skills in these areas. Programs of study from traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs were gathered from Massachusetts, Indiana, Tennessee, California and Florida in an effort to research across the United States. Traditional programs were defined as four or five-year teacher education programs in colleges or universities which began as teacher normal schools and in those that did not. Program components from 1839 through 2007 were analyzed using Thinking Maps® for organizing and interpreting the information while focusing on education foundations, teaching methods, or subject area content gaps which would correlate to teacher knowledge voids. Patterns were traced within teacher education programs focusing on the art or science of teaching. Trends in course offerings were investigated and linked to concurrent events which may have influenced them. The following results were obtained from this research. American teacher preparation programs began in 1839 with elements of teaching methods, subject area content and education foundations, which remained the common elements in 2007. The ratio of each element in teacher preparation programs fluctuated throughout history. The dissent over teaching as an art or a science was evident in the early years of teacher normal schools, and the argument continued in 2007, largely affected by the absence of a clear definition of either approach. Early teacher normal schools admitted that teacher education programs were "imperfect preparation" for the classroom, and teacher knowledge voids remained an issue in 2007. From the inception of common schools in America, there was a shortage of teachers to fill them, and the teacher shortage continued in 2007, which may have contributed to the vast difference in teacher education program composition. An avenue taken to alleviate the teacher shortage issue was alternative teacher certification. Alternative certification programs were enacted in the 1800s, and alternative certification programs were widely used in 2007.


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Graduation Date



Murray, Barbara A.


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Research, Technology, and Leadership

Degree Program

Educational Leadership








Release Date

June 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)