Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Dotger, Benjamin


Authority, Care, Clinical simulations, Preservice teacher, Teacher candidate, Threats

Subject Categories



This exploratory qualitative study examines teacher candidate and student interactions in response to verbal threats of harm. This study uses existing data: a single set of 16 clinical simulations and four post-simulation debriefing sessions. Participants include eight female and eight male teacher candidates (n = 16) who interact with one of six presumed male standardized students. This study explores teacher candidates’ dispositions of authority and care and their solutions to threatening behavior in verbal interactions with the upset adolescent student, Casey Butler.

In this study, teacher candidates rely on coercive, legitimate, and personal authority more than competent authority and authority by inducement. In addition to Wrong’s (2017) five types of authority, teacher candidates relinquish, share, and minimize their authority in interactions. They demonstrate elements of care by asking caring questions. Most teacher candidates vocalize compassion, offer time, sympathize, and practice receptive listening. Fewer teacher candidates praise and empathize with Casey. Participants rely on mild disciplinary solutions (e.g., referring to the counselor, reprimanding, conferencing) more than punitive or restorative approaches. Most teacher candidates propose the uncategorized solutions of giving responsibility to Casey, advising against violence, and discussing the possibility of Casey talking to someone else. Male and female participants responded similarly regarding authority, care, and solutions.

It is important to explore the ways teacher candidates interact with and respond to students who threaten because student threats are common and can result in violence. This study is relevant because teacher candidates have varied reactions, suggesting that candidates do not begin teaching knowing what to do when they observe threatening behavior. Recommendations are made for increased preservice and in-service learning.


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