Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wilkins, Elizabeth A.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Elementary education; Teacher education; Elementary school teachers--Training of; Critical incident technique; Teacher-student relationships


This dissertation examined the reflective practices of elementary teacher candidates. Specifically, this study examined how elementary education teacher candidates used reflection on self-identified critical incidents to close the theory-practice gap. Additionally, I studied how teacher candidates seek help when faced with dilemmas of practice. The participants for the study were elementary education teacher candidates enrolled in a clinical experience during the seventh semester of the elementary education program from one of the largest teacher education programs in the state in which I live. This study used a qualitative approach using the critical incident technique combined with case study. Data were collected from a Common Core aligned lesson, a self-identified critical incident in a digitally recorded lesson, a Critical Incident/Help Seeking Form, and a small group interview. I argue that reflection on critical incidents has the potential to assist teacher candidates connect theory and practice, especially if they are open-minded about implementing theories and strategies they have learned in their teacher education coursework. It offers implications for teacher education programs and teacher candidates.


Advisors: Elizabeth A. Wilkins.||Committee members: Mary Beth Henning; Jeanne E. Okrasinski; William A. Pitney.


216 pages




Northern Illinois University

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