Despite a surge of research interest in pre-service teachers’ identities over the past years, scant attention has been paid to the process of their identity construction during their teaching practicum.
Adopting a qualitative case study approach, this study seeks to fill this gap by examining the identity construction experiences of four pre-service school counselling teachers who have just completed their teaching practicum in a university in China.
Informed by possible selves theory and identity conflicts theory, the study shows that the participants’ identity construction emerged from the interactions between their core identities and new forms of identities arising from their daily practice and social interactions in different school settings.
While some participants’ identities updated and expanded in a supportive work environment, some experienced identity conflicts and deficits with a reduced sense of commitment towards teaching in a constraining school context.
However, facilitated by their self-agency and contextual affordance, some navigated their identity conflicts by developing a negotiated identity and/or enriching their ideal identities for their continuing practice and development.
The study argues for an explicit focus on teacher identities in current teacher education programs to raise student teachers’ identity awareness and facilitate their reflective learning and identity building.