Preservice teachers' beliefs and practices regarding constructivist literacy teaching in Huanuco, Peru

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Kathleen Hinchman


Preservice teachers, Constructivist literacy, Teaching, Huanuco, Peru

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Education | Reading and Language | Teacher Education and Professional Development


This study explores the literacy beliefs and practices of preservice teachers in the midst major Peruvian educational reform. Multiple research methods were used to study a sample of 50 graduating preservice teachers during their final semester of studies. The first portion of the study used an instrument from the literature, a survey (Lenski, Wham, & Griffey, 1998) that assessed teachers' beliefs about literacy learning and classroom practices. The second portion used a set of open-ended questions also from the literature (Linek, Nelson & Sampson, 1999) that identified teachers' philosophical orientations to literacy learning. The third portion used semi-structured interviews with ten of the 50 survey participants.

Results indicate that the preservice teachers incorporate traditional Peruvian instructional strategies into their understanding of constructivist literacy instruction. All 50 of the preservice teachers express beliefs or practices of initial literacy instruction that included attention to the alphabetic principle, syllable drills, and whole-class teaching with small group enrichment activities. Many also express belief in the importance of positive relationships between students and teachers, child centered instruction, and the development of a pedagogy of caring. The participants report that with the use of combined methods, students learn, understand and remember better what is taught.

The descriptive results hint of differences among the beliefs and practices regarding constructivist reform that seem related to gender and location (rural vs. urban) of primary school education. Subjects from rural schools report more eclectic practices of literacy instruction than subjects from urban settings, males were more eclectic in their reported beliefs and practices, while females reported greater extremes. Participants' acceptance of a sociocultural fit was tempered by the parents' and inservice teachers' antagonism to change. Participants especially struggled with what writing and caring should look like in their classrooms.

This study raises issues regarding countries' efforts to import educational innovations from other countries that do not share the sameculture, language, or histories. It suggests that caution must be taken to study ways to fit innovations with the needs and understandings of local communities.


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