Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Dr. Patricia Austin

Second Advisor

Dr. John Barnitz

Third Advisor

Dr. April Bedford

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Richard Speaker


The Center of Graduate Schools (2015) published a report detailing applications, enrollment, and trends in graduate schools across the nation showing that approximately one third of all first-time graduate school applicants in master’s degree programs utilizing the GRE assessment identify their career path in either business or teacher education. The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of classroom teachers who concurrently pursued graduate studies to earn a master’s degree in education and to understand how adult learning provided opportunities for personal growth and the attainment of professional goals. Individual interviews and two focus groups were conducted to uncover the essence of experiences across participant stories. Seven themes emerged from the data: 1) Teacher-scholars’ reasons for returning to higher education varied based on their personal and professional needs, 2) The teacher-scholar experience elicits a vast array of emotions, challenges, and successes, 3) Teacher-scholars were self-driven to start their programs however intrinsic and extrinsic motivation provided encouragement for continued desire for success, 4) Teacher-scholars’ support systems were integral to their success in their master’s programs, 5) Teacher-scholars were reflective about their teaching and learning and used reflection as a tool to improve their professional capabilities, 6) Teacher-scholars used concrete learning experiences to bring their learning into their classrooms and professional lives, and 7) Teacher-scholars’ educational journeys provided opportunities for here-and-now learning as well as increased marketability for a future in the field of education. Additionally, a revision to David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (2015) was presented. Participant data highlighted collaboration as a necessary component to teacher-scholar success yet it was not addressed in Kolb’s original model. Results from this study can be used to inform teacher education programs as well as teacher-scholars on the expectations, experiences, and perceptions of teachers who concurrently pursued higher education.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.