Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher

Second Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth

Third Advisor

Kimberly Schmidt


Auto-criticism, Higher education, Professional development, Qualitative research, Self-care, Stress


This dissertation is an auto-criticism, a new qualitative inquiry founded in educational criticism and arts-based research, which describes and analyzes my lived experience as a female university teacher. The purpose of this study is to describe, interpret, evaluate and thematize my experiences with professional stress, pregnancy loss, and self-care. Secondly, it illuminates auto-criticism as a methodology with potential contributions to qualitative research and higher education.

Personal documents, internal artifacts, and external artifacts generated during a challenging period of my life as a university teacher are used as data. Language and photography combine to story my lived experiences and findings.

This study reveals the importance of engaging in discourse about the unrealistic expectations and struggles of university teachers to change the dialogue and normalize struggles and stories of struggles. Secondly, this study underscores the need for self-care for university teachers, as this is critical to sustaining the lives of educators. Finally, auto-criticism, as a creative and flexible new methodology, has the potential to story the lived experiences of teachers’ struggles in a more accessible and engaging way. Auto-criticism encourages collective reflection, engagement, and public discourse, thus generating meaning-making and offering the potential for real-world improvement in education.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Melanie Renee Witt


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

401 p.


Higher education, Education