Examining the relationship between preservice teachers' epistemological beliefs and conceptions of teacher identity within the boundaries of teacher education discourse communities
Blair, Jennifer Johnson.
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A teacher's epistemological beliefs define the boundaries of his or her worldview and conceptualization of teacher identity. It is, therefore, essential that teacher educators support the development of sophisticated epistemological beliefs among preservice teachers. Prior studies have suggested that epistemic development may be hindered by emphasis placed on the performance of a socially constructed normative teacher identity within teacher preparation programs. This phenomenological study, which examines the relationship between preservice teachers' epistemological beliefs and their beliefs regarding normative teacher identity at different points in their teacher education program, aims to provide insight into how teacher preparation programs may better support the development of more sophisticated epistemological beliefs among preservice teachers. Data was collected from 40 preservice teachers at Montana State University using a survey instrument created for this study and interpreted through a process of discourse analysis. The individual preservice teachers studied expressed epistemological beliefs and conceptions of teacher identity that were contradictory without ever acknowledging or attempting to explain these contradictions. This suggests that the participants may not have actually developed their own beliefs through a process of consideration or inquiry, but instead have received them during their time in the teacher preparation program. The results of this study suggest that interventions focused on reflection upon theory and practice will continue to be ineffective as long as the preservice teachers continue to reflect upon these ideas through the lens of undeveloped epistemological beliefs situated within the context of a received teacher identity.