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  • 2018sewardphd

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How do student teachers experience the development of teacher identity during a three-year professional education degree?

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Deborah Seward
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Publication date2018
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

For beginning teachers the development of a professional identity is significant because it influences decision making and impacts on longer term retention in the profession. This longitudinal research project explored the issue of professional identity development by early years’ student teachers during their three-year undergraduate degree programme. Whilst it is widely recognised those professionals working with the youngest children in formal education should be highly skilled and educated there is a paucity of research in relation to student teachers training to teach 3 – 5 year olds. It is useful to consider development of teacher identity within the current performative and highly accountable culture of English education.

The study tracked the development of a teacher identity for seven undergraduate students using semi structured interviews in each year of study. These took place pre and post practicum and allowed the students an opportunity for reflection on their on-going experiences as a student teacher. The data was analysed using a hybridised thematic approach.

Analysis showed that students may experience three forms of identity development: transformation; consolidation; and rejection. Five dimensions reaching across these different forms of identity development were identified as: relationships; agency; boundary crossing; expectations of others; and professional standards. Four areas of particular concern for these students included: affective relational elements; multiple identities; contextually situated negotiation; and external membership requirements.

The findings have implications for practice in teacher education programmes including the need to consider developing a pedagogy of becoming a teacher, to support identity development, as an integral aspect of initial teacher education programmes. Recommendations are made for the development of such a pedagogical approach which surfaces: values; beliefs; role models; and student ideas around the teacher they wish to become.