Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Jackie Blount


This ethnographic research project was designed as a first step for exploring the development of teachers in holistic education who were learning action research as a means for inquiry into their own holistic practices. Action research is a methodology for systematically learning about one's chosen profession where the researcher is the researched and the observer is the observed. Holistic education is an approach to teaching that involves learning in relationship with each child, about the nuances of the whole child while simultaneously learning about oneself in relationship to the child and to the world. Combining these two fields of action research and holistic education, this study describes the experiences and viewpoints of teachers as they developed practical skills with action research for applying it in their elementary school classrooms. It is a case study of a teacher development program where teachers are engaged with self-development concurrently as they learn to use action research.;Overall, the findings of this research indicate: (1) different kinds of knowing and learning are valued by holistic educators, including academic as well as tacit knowing; (2) there are circumstances in which action research can lead to useful insights for teachers who are interested in developing their knowledge of and about holistic education, and (3) external and internal factors, such as the economic stability of the school as well as each participant's relationship to fear, mediated what and how teachers were able to learn from the program being studied. The thick descriptions in this case report were developed so that others can make judgments for themselves about their own situation with respect to the significance of action research for holistic schools that push the boundaries of teachers' pedagogic comfort levels. This study also offers practical implications that could be useful for any school or group of teachers attempting to implement more holistic approaches to education in a culture that often seems to be moving in the opposite direction.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Robin Ann Martin



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

267 pages