Preservice Elementary Teachers' Actual and Designated Identities as Teachers of Science and Teachers of Students
AuthorCanipe, Martha Murray
AdvisorGunckel, Kristin L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPreservice elementary teachers often have concerns about teaching science that may stem from a lack of confidence as teachers or their own negative experiences as learners of science. These concerns may lead preservice teachers to avoid teaching science or to teach it in a way that focuses on facts and vocabulary rather than engaging students in the doing of science. Research on teacher identity has suggested that being able to envision oneself as a teacher of science is an important part of becoming a teacher of science. Elementary teachers are generalists and as such rather than identifying themselves as teachers of particular content areas, they may identify more generally as teachers of students. This study examines three preservice teachers' identities as teachers of science and teachers of students and how these identities are enacted in their student teaching classrooms. Using a narrated identity framework, I explore stories told by preservice teachers, mentor teachers, student teaching supervisors, and science methods course instructors about who preservice teachers are as teachers of science and teachers of students. Identities are the stories that are told about who someone is or will become in relation to a particular context. Identities that are enacted are performances of the stories that are an identity. Stories were collected through interviews with each storyteller and in an unmoderated focus group with the three preservice teachers. In addition to sorting stories as being about teachers of science or students, the stories were categorized as being about preservice teachers in the present (actual identities) or in the future (designated identities). The preservice teachers were also observed teaching science lessons in their student teaching placements. These enactments of identities were analyzed in order to identify which aspects of the identity stories were reflected in the way preservice teachers taught their science lessons. I also analyzed the stories and enactments in order to determine which storytellers were significant narrators for the preservice teachers' identities. The findings from this study show that significant narrators vary among the preservice teachers and include artifacts such as curriculum materials and instructional models in addition to people who are expected to be significant narrators. Furthermore, differences between preservice teachers' actual and designated identities influence opportunities to learn about what it means to be a teacher of science and students. This took different forms with each preservice teacher. In one case the preservice teacher worked to enact aspects of her designated identity and reflected about how she was not quite able to be the teacher of science she wanted to be as a novice teacher. Another case showed how the gap between actual and designated identities could limit opportunities to learn when the preservice teacher's strong actual identity as a novice led her to consider certain aspects of her designated identity as things which could not even be tried at this point. Finally, in the third case the preservice teacher's strong actual identity limited opportunities to develop a designated identity because she did not see herself as being a different kind of teacher of science in the future than she was right now as a student teacher. These findings suggest that supporting preservice elementary teacher identity development as teachers of science is an important part of preparing them to teach science in ways that engage students in scientific practices. Additionally, it is essential to examine identity stories and enactments in concert with each other in order to gain deeper understandings of how identities are developed and put into practice in classrooms.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Teaching & Teacher Education
Degree GrantorUniversity of Arizona
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