Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

What Concerns School Teachers Today? Identity Conflict Centrality Scale for Measuring Teacher Identity: A Validation Study

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

What Concerns School Teachers Today? Identity Conflict Centrality Scale for Measuring Teacher Identity: A Validation Study

Article excerpt

Identity is a structure with several elements that are integrated dynamically and change gradually throughout the life-span (Erikson, 1968). The gradual organization of the many partial and contradictory elements into one coherent structure adapted to social reality is called configuration (Erikson, 1980). The idea of configuration expresses the basic need for accord between and within subidentity elements and between individuals and their environment. In a state of discord, conflicts are seen and describe a dissonance between and within identity elements. These conflicts cause psychological discomfort and can lead individuals to manage their conflicts to reduce the discord and restore identity cohesion (Bosma & Kunnen, 2001; Marcia, 1996). The current study focuses on conflicts of teachers within their professional identity.

The professional identity of teachers is a major subidentity that answers the question "who am I as a professional person?" Consistent with Erikson's (1968) classical definition, teacher identity is a structure with several elements that are integrated dynamically. It starts taking shape during the training period (Merseth, Sommer, & Dickstein, 2008) or even earlier (Hong, 2010) and changes gradually throughout the professional life-span (Hofiman-Kipp, 2008). Beijaard, Meijer, and Verloop (2004) reviewed 22 studies dealing with teacher identity and found that the majority of the studies looked into the intrapersonal elements of the identity formation process and avoided the effect of the environment on this process. However, many educational researchers claim that the formation of teacher identity requires a dynamic process of complex balance between two complementary identity components: the intrapersonal and interpersonal components (e.g., Merseth et al., 2008). The intrapersonal component relates to the manner in which the teacher sees himself as a professional, such as attitudes toward the profession and a sense of self-efficacy (Fisherman & Weiss, 2011). The interpersonal component relates to the manner in which students, parents, colleagues, principals, educational authorities, and society as a whole perceive the teacher as a professional.

Indeed, review of current literature monitors a change in the definition of this term. Traditional approaches related to a linear acquisition of different "assets," such as knowledge and competencies, have gradually given way to postmodern approaches. These approaches take a more holistic view of identity that takes into consideration the multiplicity, discontinuity, and social nature of identity and stress its instability and changes of identity within time and contexts (Akkerman & Meijer, 2011; Hoffman-Kipp, 2008; Olsen, 2008). However, even today there is still no agreement among researchers as to the exact definition of teacher identity and its multiple components. For example, Ronfeldt and Grossman (2008) claimed that teacher identity includes beliefs, values, motives, and experiences, but they stress "practices" (knowledge and skills) as the most central part in identity construction. Hoffman-Kipp (2008) adopted this approach and identified teacher identity as "a mix of" beliefs, attitudes, values, approaches, and routines of professional practices, while adding language and pedagogical commitment. Olsen (2008) discussed six different components, including (a) reasons for entering teaching, prior (b) professional and (c) personal experience, (d) teacher education experience, (e) current teaching practice, and (f) career plans. Connelly and Clandinin (2006) have taken a different approach, and instead of focusing on specific components, they looked at the entire experience of teaching and defined identity as a shifting narrative construction over time. They claimed that the personal stories of teachers, which they call "stories to live by," are shaped by their personal, practical, and professional knowledge and comprise their past and present daily experiences. …

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