10 SES 11 C, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education
The development of teacher identity is a complex and dynamic process (Coldron & Smith, 1999; Rodgers & Scott, 2008), which involves beliefs, values, perceptions, characteristics and qualifications of an individual, and all the experiences and conditions that contribute to the perception of one’s understanding of the self (Olsen, 2008). Teacher identity development is a continuous process that merges personal and professional characteristics in relation to being a teacher (Beijaard et al., 2004; Day 2002). Understanding how teacher identity manifests itself in practice requires one to consider multiple factors such as teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs, their motivation, job satisfaction and commitment to the profession, as well as the interrelationships among these factors (Day 2002).
Professional teacher identity plays a crucial role in designing effective learning environments during teacher education, since it affects how teachers regard professional development, their attitudes towards education and how they design in-class activities (Beijaard et al., 2004). A successful career in teaching requires candidates to become aware of the importance of their professional teacher identity, which is shaped through combining their knowledge of learning theories and classroom practices. If teachers become self-aware of the dynamic nature of the teacher identity development process, then they may steer this process in a direction that will be most beneficial for them by consciously considering their goals and interests as a teacher throughout their careers (Olsen, 2016).
The importance of teacher identity development has been revealed by many studies in the literature (Freese, 2006; Olsen, 2008; Sachs, 2005), and there are various approaches designed to support this process during teacher education programs (Alsup, 2006; Beauchamp and Thomas, 2009; Olsen, 2016; Sacs, 2005; Korthagen, 2004). In this study, the effect of using Digital Storytelling (DST) for facilitating teacher identity development process of prospective teachers is examined.
DST can be defined simply as blending technology and content to create a story about any topic of interest (Lambert, 2013; Robin, 2006). It has seven elements designed to guide people in the process as follows: (1) point of view that emphasize the perspective of the author, (2) a dramatic question that is sought to be answered throughout the digital story, (3) emotional content, (4) the gift of your voice that helps to personalize the story, (5) the power of soundtrack, (6) economy that suggest focusing on only the content without overloading, and (7) pacing that refers the rhythm of the story (Center for Digital Storytelling, 2005; Lambert, 2013).
DST can be used as a tool in any subject area to promote a variety of skills such as visual literacy, collaboration, creativity, problem solving, personal initiative, mastery of technology, etc. (McLellan, 2007). It is now commonly used in education and considered to be an effective tool to engage and motivate both teachers and students (Barrett, 2006; Lambert, 2013; Robin, 2006; Sadik, 2008). In this study, a constructivist use of DST in education (Lambert, 2013) is adopted and DST is used as a reflection platform, ‘a form of reflective practice’ (Lambert, 2013) to enable students express themselves in a comprehensive and in-depth way. The purpose of this study is to investigate how prospective teachers’ sharing and mediating their opinions and experiences about becoming a teacher through the digital stories they create affect the way they conceptualize teaching as a profession. To sum up, this study pursues the following research questions:
1. How do pre-service teachers self identify themselves as a teacher candidate?
2. How do the digital story telling experience contribute to the development of professional teacher identity?
This study employed a discourse analysis methodology. The dataset is comprised of 20 semi-structured individual interviews, and digital stories and philosophy of education statements of 22 students. First year pre-service teachers from the Computer Education and Instructional Technology department of a large state university participated in this study. 10 volunteered students participated in the pre and post interviews. In addition to this, during the course of a 14 weeks long semester all students created 6 digital stories reflecting on their ideas, feelings and values in relation to teaching as a profession, and finally wrote a philosophy of education statement at the end of the term. This study examines pre-service teachers’ identification with teaching as a profession and their perceptions of how digital story telling influenced their professional identity development by employing the “Seven Building Tasks” proposed by Gee (2010) as an analytical framework. The building tasks are designed to help construct situated meanings in a particular context, which were adopted to better understand the nature of the professional identity development within classroom discourse and to recursively examine the themes within the transcripts of interviews, digital stories and philosophy of education statements. These seven “building tasks,” namely significance, practices (activities), identities, relationships, politics, connections, and sign systems and knowledge, are applied to the data through specific guiding questions. For example, for the identities building task “what identity or identities is this piece of language being used to enact (i.e., get others to recognize as operative)?” and “what identity or identities is this piece of language attributing to others and how does this help the speaker or writer enact his or her own identity?” (Gee, 2010, p.19) were considered to guide our data analysis. Particularly relevant to this study, the context and background of the study is analyzed in detail and the analysis focused on the functions of the language as described in the building tasks. The trustworthiness of the analysis depended on the widening of the context to make the interpretation more meaningful and is based on four elements; convergence, agreement, coverage and linguistic details (Gee, 2010).
The preliminary results pointed out that for the first research question not all students consider themselves as teacher candidates, and identify with the profession mostly through their experiences as students, their interactions with their teachers and peers, and their informal teaching experiences. Generally, they stated that they feel like the society does not always value the skills and the competencies of the teachers as evidenced by the way teachers are respected and paid in their communities, so they would rather pursue something else as a profession. For the second research question, initial findings indicated that the digital story telling experience facilitated the development of critical awareness of the self as a teacher and the critical evaluation of their attitudes towards teaching as a profession. Overall, our initial observations suggest that the discourse in our case focused on willingness to engage with the profession, and critical evaluation of attitudes towards teaching as a profession. For further analysis, we will complete the discourse analysis by following the steps described by Gee (2010), and present the results in reference to specific evidence from the discourse excerpts.
Alsup, J. (2006). Teacher identity discourses: Negotiating personal and professional spaces. Mahwah,NJ:LEA. Barrett, H. (2006). Researching and evaluating digital storytelling as a deep learning tool. In C. Crawford, et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 647-654).Chesapeake,VA:AACE. Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 107-128. Beauchamp, C., & Thomas, L. (2009). Understanding teacher identity: An overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(2), 175-189. Center for Digital Storytelling Website. (2005). Retrieved January 31, 2019, from http://www.storycenter.org/history.html Coldron, J., & Smith, R. (1999). Active location in teachers' construction of their professional identities. Journal of Curriculum Studies,31(6),711-726. Day, C. (2007). School Reform and Transitions in Teacher Professionalism and Identity. In: Townsend T., Bates R. (eds) Handbook of Teacher Education (pp. 597-612).Dordrecht:Springer. Gee, J. P. (2010). How to do discourse analysis: A toolkit. New York,NY:Routledge. Korthagen, F. A. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education,20(1),77-97. Lambert, J. (2013). Digital storytelling: Capturing lives, creating community. New York,NY:Routledge. McLellan, H. (2007). Digital storytelling in higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education,19(1),65-79. Olsen, B. (2008). How reasons for entry into the profession illuminate teacher identity development. Teacher Education Quarterly,35(3),23-40. Olsen, B. (2016). Teaching for success: Developing your teacher identity in today's classroom. New York,NY:Routledge. Robin, B. (2006). The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. In C. Crawford, R. Carlsen, K. McFerrin, J. Price, R. Weber & D. Willis (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2006 (pp. 709-716).Chesapeake,VA:AACE. Robin, B. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into Practice,47(3),220-228. Rodgers, C. R., & Scott, K. H. (2008). The development of the personal self and professional identity in learning to teach. In Cochran-Smith et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Teacher Education (3rd ed., pp. 732-756). New York,NY:Routledge. Sachs, J. (2005). Teacher education and the development of professional identity: Learning to be a teacher. In P. M. Denicolo, & M. Kompf (Eds.), Connecting Policy and Practice: Challenges for Teaching and Learning in Schools and Universities (pp. 5-21). London,UK: Routledge. Sadik, A. (2008). Digital storytelling: A meaningful technology-integrated approach for engaged student learning. Educational Technology Research and Development,56(4),487-506.
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