“What’s the Middle Ground? Am I Ever Going to be the Perfect Teacher?:” Self-Study of a Doctoral Student’s Acculturation Process

Shrehan Lynch, K. Andrew, R. Richards, Colin Pennington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In higher education, doctoral training has been identified as a process of stewardship development whereby individuals learn the knowledge and skills required to advance their respective disciplines. Self-study of teacher education practices is one approach that has gained the interest of doctoral students to help them understand their own development whilst also forging recommendations for others in publications. In this self-study, we worked to understand the experiences of Shrehan, a teacher from England beginning doctoral study in the USA. Shrehan had no experience teaching at the college level prior to moving to the USA, and she saw self-study as an opportunity to understand her development and acculturation into an unfamiliar system of higher education. Data were collected through journaling, critical-friend discussions, and artefacts, as well as student data in the form of surveys, exit slips, and focus-group interviews. Qualitative data analysis of Shrehan’s experiences was guided by the four stages of acculturation theory–honeymoon, culture shock, adjustment, and recovery. Shrehan’s journey emphasizes the importance of getting to know undergraduate students and building rapport as key aspects of teaching at the college level. Self-study provided Shrehan with a heightened personal-identity awareness that increased her cultural sensitivity and broadened her worldview. Results are discussed with reference to acculturation theory and future directions for research are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-211
Number of pages18
JournalStudying Teacher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 4 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Self-study
  • acculturation
  • doctoral education
  • teaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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