Constructs describing the expert teacher: How do elementary school principals, school board members, and university based educational researchers describe the expert teacher?

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Higher Education


Gerald Mager


expert-novice pedagogical research

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research


During the past twenty years, researchers in cognitive psychology attempted to differentiate expert practice from novice practice. Pedagogical researchers recently adopted a similar focus, describing the instructional practices of expert and novice teachers. However, the pedagogical researchers failed to document the constructs used to select the expert teacher/subject for their research.

The goals of this study are to identify and compare the constructs elementary school principals, school board members, and university based educational researchers use to describe the expert teacher. This research assists in determining how different role group members describe the expert teacher, thereby enlarging the knowledge about how the expert teacher might be viewed and perhaps valued.

Two members from each of the three role groups were individually asked: to identify and rank different types of teachers, including the expert; to draw a concept map describing the expert teacher; and to use protocol materials to distinguish the expert teacher. The data, collected on videotape and in fieldnotes, consisted of each subject's verbal description of the expert teacher and his/her: ranking continuum, concept map, use of the protocol materials, and responses to the interview protocol. A case representing the data collected from each subject was presented to him/her for verification, review and comment. The cases were then analyzed to identify how the expert teacher was described.

The subjects were able to identify, describe, and distinguish the expert teacher. Collectively, they identified expert teacher: synonyms, qualities, and roles. They described expert teacher: behaviors, qualities, roles, and skills. They distinguished the expert teacher using different protocol materials. They also suggested supplemental materials and procedures to aid in this task.

These subjects also identified other types of teachers previously undocumented in expert-novice pedagogical research. They were able to describe and make concrete the differences between the expert teacher and these other types of teachers. Each perceived the expert teacher differently, but described him/her similarly, as a teacher who practices in ways the other types of teachers are unable/unwilling to practice.


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