Using appreciative inquiry to describe and create teacher peak experiences: a case study of elementary school teachers
The purpose of this study was to describe the peak experiences of teachers while teaching and the necessary ecological conditions for them to enter into a peak experience state. Due to limited research on the study of peak experiences as it relates to teaching, this study sought to describe the peak experiences of teachers through the teachers’ personal reflections back on their peak experiences, and it sought to understand the conditions that allowed these teachers to enter into a peak experience state. The basic design of this study was a qualitative case study conducted through an appreciative inquiry theoretical perspective and a humanistic psychology perspective. An appreciative inquiry theoretical perspective is an action research inquiry process designed to help participants identify their achievements and strengths and allows people to think deeply about their human potential. Participants were guided through three Appreciative Inquiry stages to include discover, dream, and design. Descriptive field notes were taken and information was gathered from varying perspectives. Volunteers were asked to participate in various data collection methods to include semi-structured interviews, semi-structured paired-interviews, focus groups, participant created documents, and generative story telling to support cross-validation and triangulation. Data were analyzed using the comparative analysis matrix method (Miles and Huberman, 1994). Data were also analyzed using the text analysis software CATPAC as a filter to facilitate a deeper level of content analysis. Data were compared, conceptualized, and categorized through content analysis, pattern matching, and an open coding process. After open coding, connections and categories were developed through an axial coding method (Strauss and Corbin, 1990). All analyzed data were used to aggregate common information and identify new insights into perceptions of teachers regarding peak experiences in a teaching and learning context (Guba and Lincoln, 1981). The analyzed data revealed five salient findings: (1) The appreciative inquiry experience allowed participants to identify and create peak experiences and to discover the ecological conditions necessary for them to enter into a peak experience state, (2) the appreciative inquiry process allowed the participants to recognize the importance of connecting with each other and students, (3) the appreciative inquiry process allowed the participants to identify intrinsic needs, (4) the appreciative inquiry process allowed people to validate themselves and others as worthwhile people, and (5) the appreciative inquiry experience identified the importance of recalling and sharing peak experience stories. All of the findings suggested that the appreciative inquiry process has the potential to alter patterns of teacher behavior, which in turn affects organizational culture. Using an AI theoretical research perspective in this research study empowered and energized teachers in life-changing, transformational ways to positively affect a teaching and learning context. The findings from this study have the potential to contribute to the areas of study that focus on effective teaching. This research provided an expanded understanding of peak experiences through an AI design to facilitate teachers in describing personal experiences of peak experiences in a teaching and learning context.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Educarion, Dept. of Educational Leadership