Narrative Inquiry of Chinese and American Student Teachers’ Professional Identities in Their Teaching Practicums: A Story Constellations Approach
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This dissertation narrates two Chinese and two American student teachers’ professional identity constructions during their practicums using the story constellations approach to voice their narrative authority. Informed by Big “D” Discourse theory, knowledge communities, and micropolitical theory, this dissertation showcases the Chinese and American student teachers’ stories to live by—a narrative approach to understanding their professional identity formation nested within the shifting landscapes. These professional knowledge landscapes included their personal schooling experiences, teacher education programs, and the placement schools where their rudimentary teaching practices unfurled. This dissertation situates the participants’ professional identity formation at the point where their practical knowledge, emotionality of teaching, and professional vulnerability meet. These intertwined elements foster the understanding of the internal dynamics of student teachers’ professional identity development. This dissertation found that the Chinese student teachers experienced eagerness and anxiety at the beginning of their teaching practicums, reality shock amid student teaching, and confidence at the end of the teaching practice. Meanwhile, their American counterparts expressed confidence at the beginning of their student teaching, fragility amid their practicum experiences, and satisfaction at the conclusion of student teaching. This dissertation reveals some convergences regarding the student teachers’ professional identity formation: 1) negotiation between personal and professional identities, 2) reflections linking theory and practice, and 3) the shift from curriculum-implementers to curriculum-makers. This dissertation also uncovered five pairs of divergences in terms of professional identity construction. These include: 1) different purposes for entering the teaching profession, 2) different program learning experiences, 3) different professional identity orientations, 4) different styles of mentorships, and 5) different pedagogical approaches. After synthesizing the narrative accounts, implications for strengthening the west-east dialogue on teacher education in both China and the U.S. are discussed.
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Zhu, Gang (2018). Narrative Inquiry of Chinese and American Student Teachers’ Professional Identities in Their Teaching Practicums: A Story Constellations Approach. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from