Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Gloria McDaniel Hall

Second Advisor

Stuart Carrier

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Minor


Recent teacher shortages after the 2020 to 2022 COVID pandemic disruption of education systems have increased interest in Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) targeting teacher candidates who obtained earlier degrees in fields other than education. This mixed methods research project employed surveys and semi-structured interviews to examine perceptions of early career teachers who completed a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) preparation program in a midwestern U.S. urban, low-income setting. These MAT EPP program completers described their views of their preparation program, including the EPP’s perceived strengths and areas for improvement framed by Danielson’s four domains of teaching responsibility: Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities. The researcher utilized a sequential survey and interview research design to gather survey data (N=25) and then to delve deeper through open-ended interviews (N=8), seeking to triangulate subjects’ views of EPP effectiveness in teaching, particularly in low-income schools. Results found that 60% of surveyed MAT EPP graduates indicated that Classroom Environment was their perceived greatest area of strength. In terms of Area of Needed Support, the largest subgroup (32%) reported the Domain of Instruction as the most significant area. The follow-up interview phase reported two EPP structural components as equally influential: Instructors’ Support (32%) and Student Teaching Placement (32%). Teacher responses to survey and interview questions showed that most participants identified a lack of culturally relevant pedagogy as an EPP area needing improvement. The study described tenets of change leadership and adaptive leadership as frameworks for improving MAT EPP curriculum, suggesting that greater EPP attention to developing cultural proficiency could improve EPP effectiveness. Findings noted that some teacher competencies could only be learned through real-world experiences. The findings also suggest that although EPPs provide hands-on experiences, the depth of those experiences must be expanded to maximize their effects on teachers’ self-efficacy.