http://orcid.org/ 0000-0002-4568-0252

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Barbara Cozza

Second Advisor

Joan Birringer-Haig

Third Advisor

Katherine Aquino


After receiving tenure, experienced teachers may choose to not participate in professional development opportunities. In fact, tenured teachers may only complete the minimum professional development hours required by their school districts. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the factors that motivated tenured elementary school teachers (grades 3-6) to participate in self-directed professional development (SD-PD) in literacy. This study consisted of six tenured teachers (grades 3-6) who were recruited from three different schools in a suburban elementary school district in Nassau County, New York. Data were collected through one-on-one online interviews, a collection of participants’ written diaries reflecting on their experiences with SD-PD in literacy, and brief descriptions of lesson plans which integrated concepts learned in SD-PD.

The findings of this study concluded that tenured teachers in grades 3-6 were motivated to participate in SD-PD in literacy by feelings of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. In terms of autonomy, tenured teachers appeared motivated the most by how they learned (technique), and with whom they learned (team). The results of this study also demonstrated that tenured teachers in grades 3-6 were motivated by four main factors: (1) collaborating with colleagues, (2) gaining control over time, (3) meeting their own needs and their students’ needs, and (4) having choices. The participants also described themselves as reflective teachers. The types of SD-PD in literacy that tenured teachers (grades 3-6) selected included that of literacy coaching and online learning. In addition, the participants applied concepts learned in SD-PD in literacy in four areas: (1) generating writing lesson plans, (2) conducting reading and writing conferences, (3) using digital sources, and (4) conducting small groups online. Implications and recommendations for future research were also discussed.