This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Connoisseurship of Teaching in Higher Education




Southard, Robert

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


This study examined the principles and practices of award-winning instructors in the classroom. This study creates a perspective of what constitutes teaching expertise in a higher education classroom. The purpose of this study was to examine what they perceived is needed to meet the various needs of college age students. This research examined instructor’s attitudes towards andragogical and pedagogical practices in the classroom. This research also examines what skills the professors felt as if best prepare them for the planning of lessons. The study examined any correlations between the principals of Adult Education (Knowles, 1978) and the effective practices in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). The participants included professors (N=4) at a southeastern four-year university. Data collection occurred using the following qualitative strategies – individual interviews, document analysis, and classroom observations. A literature review was conducted in order to gather preliminary data to gauge saturation of the topic in current and past publications and included literature on adult education, faculty development, andragogy and pedagogy, and student attitudes about professor performance. These areas of focus provided a basis for the conceptual framework and also provided a lens through which to view all data and literature. Analysis of data that was collected through interviews and observations lead to six main conclusions. All participants perceived adult, non-traditional, students as distinct and different as compared to traditional students in terms of age, preparedness, and maturity. Most of the participants realized the importance to develop an understanding of the varied needs of students through classroom engagement using a variety of tools and instructional methods. All participants had some sort of reflection plan in place to assess their teaching. Most of the participants felt that their time and experience had only strengthened or confirmed their philosophy of education. The majority of participants found that the greatest help in their development has been their past teaching experience outside of higher education. The majority of the participants stated that time was the biggest hindrance to their development as instructors.