Update Your Status: Exploring Pre-service Teacher Identities in an Online Discussion Group

September 2015

Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 43, No. 5, 438–449, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The present article reports on a study that explored identities in the context of a pre-service cohort’s online discussion group.

The participants were pre-service teachers, who studied for a Bachelor of Education at an Australian university. They were part of a closed online group (“Ed Group”) hosted on the popular social networking website Facebook. They use Ed Group in order to discuss and share their degree-related interests and concerns.
The authors examined the online posts of 61 of these group members. They also conducted one-on-one interviews with 8 members of this group.

The authors identified six main emergent identities –sociable, supportive, open, helpful, reliant, and hidden. They argue that participants, their comments, and postings exhibited more than one of these identities. For example, a participant can display both supportive and reliant identities in a single online post.

The findings revealed that there was an evidence of hidden identities in Ed Group. The hidden participants were those who did not post or posted very rarely during their practicum.
It was also found that one category of identities emerged from a commitment to the social expectations and values of the group, whilst another emerged out of a personal resistance towards the social norms of group participation and involvement.
In order to promote a collegial online environment, the findings indicate that pre-service teachers consistently exhibited and conceptualised sociable, supportive, helpful, and reliant identities when interacting within the online Ed Group forum.

The authors conclude that the present study describes how pre-service teachers relate and do not relate to, perform and do not perform in the absence of their instructors. 

Updated: Feb. 22, 2018