The Role of Emotions in Student Teachers’ Professional Identity

Nov. 01, 2012

Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 35, No. 4, November 2012, 421–433
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to investigate what kind of emotions are significant as identity shaping for student teachers.


The participants were 45 students participated.
All the students were in the initial stages of teacher education in Tallinn University and had completed their first professional placement. 41 students were female and four were male.
The study was carried out in 2006–2007. Data were collected through a semi-structured interview that attempted to understand what kind of factors is more significant in student teacher professional identity.


The results indicate that emotions play an important role in social learning and, through this, influence the development of professional identity.
The findings showed that both positive and negative emotions influence the teaching experiences of the students.
The article had two most important findings.
First, negative emotions exercised the strongest influence.
The intensity of negative experiences that emerged overshadowed other emotions experienced at the same time and hindered a comprehensive overview and choice of positive strategies.
The prevalence of negative experiences in the data indicates that negative experiences are more meaningful for student teachers, more in focus and are better memorised.

Second, the findings revealed that supervisors neglected the role of positive emotions as a support for learning.
Strong negative emotions were expressed related to teachers in both the practice school and university.
Since, it was also widely presumed that schools would be more willing and able to receive student teachers and that all teachers and supervisors would have more time for supervision and guidance.
The authors argue that more cooperation was expected between schoolteachers and university teachers.


The authors argue that although they found positive emotions support thoughts that help problem solving, objectivity and creativity in the choice of multiple instructional strategies, their research indicates that they do not support this as much they could in teacher education.
They argue that teacher education has to deal with the negative aspects identified by the research in order to both
(1) improve the overall quality of initial teacher education, and
(2) improve the preparation of practice supervisors.
They claim that the understanding of emotions within the school context requires more contextual and domain-specific approaches.
The recognition of inconsistency and the development of a conscious attitude towards the fact that models will be always be applied differently due to the effect of different factors shall be a constant and ongoing.
This outlook can help student teachers plan their professional future more realistically.
Finally, this research clearly showed the strong and inevitable influence of emotions in learning and teaching in the early stages of teacher education.

The authors recommend, therefore, that teacher educators should, from an early stage, encourage students to express their emotions and read the emotions of others as a key component of self-regulation.
They also recommend that researchers should apply measures beyond self-reportage such as observation and physiological measures in order to gain a more complete picture of the complex issue of teachers’ emotions.

Updated: Nov. 23, 2015