Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Kathy Escamilla

Second Advisor

Daniel Liston

Third Advisor

Susan Jurow

Fourth Advisor

Esther Brown

Fifth Advisor

Javier Rivas


Teacher Directives and Learner Response in a Preschool Classroom: A Bilingual Case Study

Language is the medium through which we communicate, and language in the classroom is how the teacher manages the classroom and directs instruction. This qualitative case study focused on a Spanish-English bilingual preschool teacher and her fourteen bilingual and bicultural students, in particular how she used directives for classroom management and instruction. The focus of this study is the teacher directive and the student response to these directives. Along with this focus, I examined the dynamics involved in directives for classroom management and instructional objectives, as well as in maintaining interpersonal relationships.

Interaction—the comprehension and negotiation of directives—took place at the communicative locus, where the speaker’s utterance was interpreted by the listener. I used a framework based principally on Tracy’s (2003) Action-Implicative Discourse Analysis (AIDA) model, which featured four central elements: (1) the teacher’s position and (2) the sense of authority that the students granted that position; (3) the degree of directness of the directives and (4) the level of cooperation between interlocutors (Davies, 2007; Grice, 1975). Data came from two primary sources, (1) recorded observations and their transcripts and (2) interviews with both teacher and students. I also wrote analytical memorandums and collected artifacts. I conducted 19 observations (which yielded 251 pages of transcription) (see Appenidex G: Overview of Observations), six teacher interviews, and 15 student interviews. I wrote 25 analytic memos. I also developed an analytic inventory instrument that allowed me to determine the level of directness of directives.

Taking into account teacher and students, as well as immediate and ideological objectives granted insight into each interactant’s motivations. By analyzing directives for directness, via an inventory instrument, I was able to examine strengtheners and attenuators in interactive situations. I also examined debates that featured the ideologies and large-scale ideas.

I found that, in negotiation, students had to determine how to respond to teacher directives. This negotiation was part of the process of comprehension. The teacher used directives as part of her instruction to build an educational foundation for the students. Reflection and contemplation allowed the teacher to reconcile certain seemingly contradictory facets of her teaching, as well as how to use different strategies.