Teacher Experiences in Elementary Word Study Instruction: A Phenomenological Study

Gregory Stephen Mihalik

Document Type Article


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experience of integrating word study spelling programs for second grade teachers across six elementary schools in Northern Virginia. Word study is a developmental spelling approach that can be used by teachers to differentiate instruction and meet student needs. Despite the growing popularity of the program and increased classroom application, many schools nationwide continue to use memory-based traditional methods. Based on a review of the word study literature, the study sought to describe the experience of second grade teachers implementing word study spelling instruction in their classrooms. This study explored the challenges, successes, practices, and student growth of the word study program. A transcendental phenomenological approach was used to interview and observe 19 teachers over 18 weeks (two marking periods) as they began the school year teaching word study. Phenomenological analysis identified three common themes across schools focusing on time and group management, transfer of skills, and professional development. Implications for the research suggested value in team collaboration, multi-faceted and in-depth professional development and the integration of word study skills across the curriculum. Recommendations for future research could broaden to other grade levels, geographic locations and studying the impact of professional development and teacher collaboration options.