A longitudinal study that charts and explains teachers’ beliefs through three teacher career stages (from Beginner teachers, Qualified teachers, through to Early Career teachers of English), within Northern Ireland post-primary schools to detail how teachers engage with teaching writing.

  • Nicola Marlow

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Teacher beliefs are important in framing pedagogical decisions that impact on practice. Writing experiences should support pupil expression and create exploratory spaces to enable pupils to articulate views. However, the educational climate is assessment-driven and, often, focused on performativity.

This qualitative longitudinal study followed an entire cohort of ten PGCE English Post-primary student teachers over four years, and through three different teacher career stages. These stages included, Beginner Teachers (BTs), Qualified Teachers (QTs) and Early Career Teachers (ECTs) of English. The study captured and explained changes in teachers’ beliefs for teaching writing in Northern Ireland (NI) post-primary schools.

Data collection methods differed at each teacher career stage. Theory Practice Reflections (TPRs), a focus group and individual semi-structured online interviews were employed respectively at BT, QT and ECT stages. A General Inductive Analysis (GIA) method was utilised to capture themes and a conceptual model for teaching writing was developed. This model contributes to research in this field as it sets out the different elements that impact how teacher beliefs affect how writing is taught (Thomas, 2006). A Pedagogical Content Knowing (PCKg) model was also used (and the research recommends a new, modified version of this model) to further explain how participants engaged with knowledge required to teach writing (Cochran et al., 1993).

Findings pointed to teacher beliefs as impacting on pedagogical choices for teaching writing. Formative educational experiences influenced participants. Overall, conclusions report that participants maintained child-centred beliefs, however, these were often restricted in practice, due to performativity pressures. Recommendations are for audits of skills and teacher beliefs, at the ITE stage and onwards. Teacher agency should be addressed and supported. Curriculum and assessment structures should be reviewed to meet NI curriculum aims. This original and internationally significant study adds to the research that explores writing pedagogy within the NI context.
Date of AwardJan 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKathleen Mc Cracken (Supervisor) & Jessica Bates (Supervisor)


  • Teacher agency
  • Performativity
  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Assessment

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