Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Daniel P. Liston

Second Advisor

Anne L. DiPardo

Third Advisor

A. Susan Jurow


This study is an exploration of alternative teacher professional development. While using symbolic interactionism for a research lens, it characterizes the discursive practices commonly found in formal, informal, and blended-space speech communities based on the talk within a leadership-development program comprised of five female, church-based small group leaders. The author designed, facilitated, and researched the discourse accounting for the formal professional development design and informal discursive practices which comprised this blended-space speech community. The author provides an overview of the leadership-development program design along with the sociolinguistic research methods. The analysis describes both above-the-sentence and turn-by-turn discursive practices for the group's talk. This includes above-the-sentence discursive practices of managing the conversational floor, enacting discursive power, offering representations of reality, and maintaining appropriate relationships, as well as turn-by-turn practices of responding to questions, utilizing repetition, offering minimal responses, and overlapping turns. The author concludes that blended-space professional development, employing appropriate levels of formal and informal discursive practices, will support both professional and relational goals for teachers. Furthermore, the author suggests implications for designing, facilitating, and examining discourse for conversation-based professional development.