Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


Language & Literacy

First Advisor

Pamela Jewett

Second Advisor

Heidi Mills


Linda Darling-Hammond (2008), a member of President Obama's education transition team, published a collection of chapters, each written by prominent researchers in the field of education. Throughout this compilation, the idea of using inquiry in the classroom was heralded again and again. Darling-Hammond argued for the "implementation of inquiry-based curriculum that engages children in extended, constructive work, often in collaborative groups, and subsequently demands a good deal of self-regulated inquiry" (p. 13). Significant in Darling-Hammond's message was that educators need to provide students with experiences that allow them to become inquirers who can construct their own knowledge. However, while the professional literature provides many examples of inquiry in action in classrooms, there has been less written on teachers who adopt an inquiry stance. By focusing on the beliefs and practices of a veteran teacher, this study fills a gap in the existing literature and has implications for pre- and in-service teacher educations as well as teacher educators.

Through the use of qualitative research methods (Merriam, 2009; Wolcott, 2008), life story interview methods (Cole & Knowles, 2001; Rossman & Rallis, 2003), and interview data analysis (Spradley, 1979), the purpose of this study was to understand the life experiences, beliefs, and practices of an educator, Kathryn Mitchell Pierce, who embraces inquiry in her classroom and beyond.

Kathryn's story and her beliefs about inquiry have deepened and broadened my understandings of what it means to live a life of inquiry. Her story brings to light the belief that inquiry is a not a series of steps that a teacher follows in the classroom. Rather it is a way of being, a way of living a life. To Kathryn, living the life of an inquirer means being reflective of her actions in both her personal life and her classroom, being open to continuous learning, and constantly seeking opportunities to learn with others.


© 2013, Michelle Avila Vanderburg

Included in

Education Commons