The benefits of being curious continue beyond infancy and early childhood. Curiosity has been linked to academic achievement, memory, and lifelong learning. Yet curiosity type behaviors in academic settings are infrequently observed. This is a concern because some of the students graduating from the educational system will be the teachers responsible for fostering conditions that spark curiosity and exploration for future students. These prospective teachers' lived curiosity experiences will influence their future teaching beliefs and practices. Yet few studies have been conducted that illuminate the lived curiosity experiences of prospective teachers. The research question that guided this study was, what are the lived curiosity experiences of traditionally-aged freshmen pursuing a degree in education? A phenomenological-based approach was chosen to uncover and examine prospective teachers' prior curiosity-related experiences. Using purposive and criterion sampling methods, 13 participants were recruited from foundational education courses. Rich descriptions of participants' curiosity experiences were obtained by conducting semi-structured interviews composed of open-ended questions. Using Moustakas's modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method, data from the verbatim transcriptions were examined and analyzed. Seven themes were extrapolated from the data that were woven throughout four phases of curiosity. The themes revealed that participants' curiosity experiences included exposure to novel information or novel perspectives that sparked feelings or states of being that were both positive and negative. The participants' curiosity prompted them to explore the objects of their curiosity in independent and social activities that were often supported by individuals who provided autonomy and joined them in their exploration. Furthermore, every participant shared at least one experience in which people were the object of their curiosity. People, with whom participants shared a relationship founded on mutual respect and trust, were also instrumental in cultivating conditions that encouraged curiosity and exploration. The findings have implications for researchers, K-12 educators, and individuals responsible for preparing prospective teachers who are interested in exploring further, through research or practice, the potentiality of fostering curiosity.
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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Teaching, Learning, and Leadership
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kelly, Susan, "An Examination of the Lived Curiosity Experiences of Traditionally-Aged Freshmen Pursuing and Education Degree" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5045.