Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Cantrell


Guided reading provides teachers the opportunity to support students in literacy learning. When planning for and implementing this instructional approach, teachers are required to make various in-advance and in-the-moment decisions that involve responding to students’ instructional needs through adaptive teaching. Grounded in sociocultural and social constructivist theories, this study was designed to understand teacher decision-making within the context of guided reading instruction. Several questions were considered for this study: How do teachers make decisions about guided reading instruction? How do teachers make in-advance decisions about grouping, planning, and assessing? How do teachers make in-the-moment decisions about (a) feedback and support for students, and (b) adjusting plans to better meet students’ needs?

This research was a collective case study aimed at providing a better understanding of the various decisions teachers make when teaching in a guided reading context. The qualitative case study included video recorded observations, post observation interviews, and a collection of guided reading lesson plans. Qualitative data analysis included open and axial coding as well as an organization of the codes, according to the data, in their respective category of in-advance decision or in-the-moment decision. This methodology enabled a comprehensive analysis of teacher decision-making within guided reading.

Findings pertaining to in-advanced decisions that emerged from the data can be categorized into three overarching themes: teachers used formal and informal assessment data to group students for guided reading and to make instructional plans based on students’ needs, teachers utilized a program-influenced structural framework to make decisions about planning for guided reading instruction and lastly, teachers made instructional connections between whole group instruction and guided reading, and also between students and their interests. Although teachers made various in-advance decisions when creating their lessons plans, these decisions were not always grounded in considering students’ instructional needs. Findings from the observations and interviews concerning in-the-moment decisions can be categorized under four overarching themes: teachers responded to students by scaffolding instruction, teachers confirmed students’ reading and writing behaviors, teachers made thoughtful decisions about instruction, and teachers felt time restrictions. Although the data exhibited variation across the three teachers, they all showed similarities with in-the-moment decision-making across these four themes.

Implications of this study include more focus on supporting teachers’ instructional planning, a refinement of teachers’ skills in helping them understand how to best scaffold instruction, and raising awareness to educators, administrators, and stakeholders on how guided reading can provide supportive instruction to meet students’ individualized needs. Teachers are faced with an unlimited number of decisions and understanding their decision-making process is important when considering how teachers best meet the instructional needs of all students.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)