Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol . 43, No . 1, 61–70, 2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article examines the social construction of identity among preservice teachers and the implications for professional identity.
The participants were pre-service teachers who enrolled in a Kenyan university.
The author conducted semi-structured interviews with the participants.
The author found that the students viewed the teacher in different ways and this had implications for student orientation and for the students’ identity construction.
The participants already had social representations of the teacher and the teaching profession. These representations played an essential role in how they negotiated their teacher identity and situated themselves as teachers.
The author also found that the majority of participants perceived teachers as helpless and passive actors. This finding is consistent with the literature on social representations of the teachers and the teaching profession as seen by pre-service teachers. The participants also spoke of an undervalued profession where teachers were looked down upon, and they evoked teaching as overworked but underpaid work.
Furthermore, the participants also perceive teaching as a profession to avoid and distanced themselves from it psychologically. This finding is also consistent with the literature.
The author found that the majority of students saw teaching as a profession to avoid at all costs, because of the working conditions and the low wages.
The findings also reveal that even among student-teachers who spoke of intrinsic motivation, the desire to join professions other than teaching once the training programme had been completed was common. This finding suggests that students were faced with two opposing forces which had an impact on their identity formation.
The author concludes that the results of this study have shown that students based their negative representations of the profession on what they perceived to be others’ representations rather than on personal experiences. Furthermore, while training is intended to guide prospective teachers and enable them to build a positive teacher identity, the findings reveal that the training programme was unable to deconstruct negative student representations, which had an impact on the identity constructed. The author recommends that new and innovative forms of training that take students’ representations of teachers and the teaching profession into account are thus necessary.