Academic journal article Research in the Teaching of English

(Dis)Identifying as Writers, Scholars, and Researchers: Former Schoolteachers' Professional Identity Work during Their Teacher-Education Doctoral Studies

Academic journal article Research in the Teaching of English

(Dis)Identifying as Writers, Scholars, and Researchers: Former Schoolteachers' Professional Identity Work during Their Teacher-Education Doctoral Studies

Article excerpt

During the past few decades, education researchers have given renewed attention to the preparation of university-based teacher educators. Several studies have focused on teacher-education doctoral programs as crucial sites of professional formation (e.g., Labaree, 2003; Murray & Male, 2005; Zeichner, 2005). Teacher-education doctoral students tend to be former PreK-12 teachers (Dinkelman, Margolis, & Sikkenga, 2006, p. 5). While working in schools, they also may have mentored teacher candidates and colleagues (Zeichner, 2005). Nevertheless, despite such professional experiences as school-based teachers and teacher educators, these teacher-education doctoral students may find it challenging to develop pedagogies as university-based teacher educators (e.g., Loughran, 2014; Murray & Male, 2005; Zeichner, 2005). Prior research has suggested that this transition entails not only new teaching responsibilities but also professional identity work (e.g., Erickson, Young, & Pinnegar, 2011; Labaree, 2003; Loughran, 2014; Murray & Male, 2005; Neumann, Pallas, & Peterson, 1999). As Goodwin et al. (2014) have remarked, beyond "instructing or developing preservice and/or inservice teachers," becoming a teacher educator requires "a purposeful commitment to a professional life that is centered on the teaching of teachers" (p. 285). Most US schoolteachers are women (Zumwalt & Craig, 2008, p. 404), and women, in particular, have reported difficulties in claiming and enacting authoritative identities as instructors of teacher-education courses (Maher, 2001).

In addition to their university teaching activities, teacher-education doctoral students are also expected to design, conduct, and disseminate research, including and beyond the dissertation (e.g., Goodwin et al., 2014; Smith, 2005). Previous studies have highlighted teacher-education doctoral students' struggles to develop this dimension of their work as university-based teacher educators (e.g., Labaree, 2003; Murray & Male, 2005; Zeichner, 2005). Some proponents of self-study have argued that guided practice with this methodology may encourage teacher-education doctoral students to launch and sustain active research agendas (e.g., Cochran-Smith, 2005; Loughran, 2014; Zeichner, 2005). Nevertheless, opportunities remain to investigate teacher-education doctoral students' reluctance to identify as producers of education research, rather than merely as critical consumers, creative users, and/or pedagogical communicators. Some faculty supervisors have observed that former schoolteachers may experience "tensions" of professional allegiance in adopting purposes, perspectives, audiences, and obligations of university-based education researchers during their doctoral studies (Labaree, 2003, p. 16; Neumann et al., 1999, p. 251). Such identity conflicts have also been explored in studies of PreK-12 teachers who write, present, and publish their classroom-based inquiries into locally salient issues of teaching and learning (e.g., Whitney, 2012; Whitney et al., 2012; Whitney, Zuidema, & Fredricksen, 2014). However, more research is needed on the professional-development trajectories of such "teacher-researchers" (Whitney et al., 2012, p. 394) and "teacher-writers" (p. 411) as they engage in university-based education-research writing during their teacher-education doctoral studies.

Of particular interest are teacher-education doctoral students specializing in language, literacy, and/or literature education, who, having previously taught writing in PreK-12 contexts, are experienced observers, theorists, and facilitators of writing development, in addition to their possible previous work as teacherresearchers/writers. These former schoolteachers are uniquely prepared to discuss their professional formation as university-based education-research writers. In this article, I examine 11 such language, literacy, and/or literature (LLL) specialists' (dis)identifications as writers, scholars, and researchers in stream-of-consciousness quick-writes that they produced at regular intervals throughout their semesters of participation in five extracurricular peer writing groups that I facilitated. …

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