The development of preservice elementary teachers' curricular role identity for science teaching
Post on 06-Jul-2016
SCIENCE TEACHER EDUCATIONJulie Bianchini and Mark Windschitl, Section Coeditors
The Development of PreserviceElementary Teachers CurricularRole Identity for Science Teaching
CORY T. FORBES, ELIZABETH A. DAVISDepartment of Educational Studies, School of Education, University of Michigan,Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259, USA
Received 16 August 2007; revised 28 November 2007, 18 December 2007;accepted 20 December 2007
DOI 10.1002/sce.20265Published online 19 February 2008 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com).
ABSTRACT: Curriculum materials are a crucial tool with which teachers engage in teach-ing practice. For preservice teachers to learn to use science curriculum materials in produc-tive ways, they must develop a conception of themselves as elementary teachers in whichthe use of science curriculum materials is a valued dimension of science-teaching practice.We define those dimensions of teachers professional role identities concerned with the useof curriculum materials as curricular role identity. This mixed-methods study examinespreservice elementary teachers development of curricular role identity for science teach-ing through their use of science curriculum materials. Forty-seven preservice elementaryteachers in two sections of an elementary science methods course were studied over thecourse of one semester. Data sources include survey results from preservice teachers in both
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Association for Science Teacher Education annualmeeting in Clearwater Beach, FL, in January 2007.
Correspondence to: Cory T. Forbes; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgContract grant sponsor: National Science Foundations PECASE./CAREER Award.Contract grant number: REC-0092610.Contract grant sponsor: Center for Curriculum Materials in Science, a Centers for Learning and Teaching
(CLT) grant from the National Science Foundation.Contract grant number: 0227557.Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the
C 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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course sections as well as interviews, observations, and course artifacts from preserviceteachers studied in-depth. Results suggest preservice teachers articulate important differ-ences between their own and more experienced elementary teachers curricular role identityfor science teaching and make progress toward appropriating the latter. Supporting themto do so requires emphasizing interactions with science curriculum materials as part ofteacher education and providing classroom-based experiences through which they can puttheir developing curricular role identities into action. C 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed92:909 940, 2008
INTRODUCTIONWhile systemic reform of science teaching is a daunting challenge, the current empha-
sis of science education reform on standards-based, inquiry-oriented teaching (AmericanAssociation for the Advancement of Science [AAAS], 1993; National Research Council[NRC], 1996) has been advanced in a range of contexts and through a variety of methods,including preservice teacher education, professional development, and the developmentof science curriculum materials. Of these various means of translating science educationreform in classroom practice, however, it is arguably curriculum materials that can havethe greatest effect on day-to-day teaching and learning (Brown & Edelson, 2003). AsShulman (1986) noted more than 20 years ago, these materials represent the pharmacopiafor teaching and act as an essential tool with which teachers craft teaching practice. Theterm science curriculum materials can be defined broadly as including both the physicaltools used in science classrooms (such as laboratory apparati, instruments, and technology)and the representational tools (such as text-based artifacts and graphics) around whichthe use of physical tools is structured (Brown, 2002). Consistent with recent research onteachers and curriculum materials (Davis & Krajcik, 2005; Remillard, 2005), we focus oncurriculum materials as representational tools.
The relationship between teachers and curriculum materials is characterized by a processof curriculum design. Teachers evaluate, adapt, and enact curriculum materials in light oftheir own unique needs, those of their students, and the contexts in which they work. Throughiterative cycles of curriculum design, teachers can learn to engage with curriculum materialsand in teaching practice more productively. In light of recent research on teachers use ofcurriculum materials, Remillard (2005) has proposed a model of the teachercurriculumrelationship that captures this curriculum design process, emphasizing the importance of aparticipatory relationship between teachers and curriculum materials, how this relationshipplays out in particular contexts, and opportunities for teacher learning that emerge fromengaging in curriculum design.
Teachers ability to engage in curriculum design at a classroom level, or pedagogicaldesign capacity (Brown, 2002, in press), is a function not only of context but also the natureof the curriculum materials themselves and individual teacher characteristics, includingtheir knowledge and beliefs (Remillard & Bryans, 2004; Roehrig & Kruse, 2005; Schneider,Krajcik, & Blumenfeld, 2005). However, the influence of teachers knowledge and beliefson their use of curriculum materials may not tell the whole story (Brown, 2002; Enyedy,Goldberg, & Welsh, 2006). Teachers knowledge and beliefs contribute more generallyto their orientations toward teaching practice, including the use of curriculum materials(Remillard & Bryans, 2004). These orientations can be defined as a set of perspectivesand dispositions toward curriculum materials and salient, curriculum materials-specificdimensions of teaching practice in which identity is foregrounded. We define curricularrole identity, then, as those dimensions of an individuals professional teaching identity thatare concerned with the use of curriculum materials and suggest this construct is a useful
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tool to better understand preservice and in-service teachers use of science curriculummaterials.
Given the calls for research on the relationship between teacher characteristics, includingidentity, and teachers use of curriculum materials (Remillard, 2005), we undertook researchaimed at better understanding how preservice elementary teachers construct a teachingidentity as they learn to use science curriculum materials. Specifically, we asked,
1. How do preservice elementary teachers conceptualize their role identity in respectto curriculum materials?
2. How do preservice elementary teachers curricular role identities develop throughtheir use of science curriculum materials at this early stage along the teacher profes-sional continuum?
While a substantial amount of research has focused on in-service teachers use of sci-ence and mathematics curriculum materials (Collopy, 2003; Enyedy & Goldberg, 2004;Fishman, Marx, Best, & Tal, 2003; Lloyd, 1999; Pinto, 2004; Remillard, 1999; Remillard& Bryans, 2004; Roehrig & Kruse, 2005; Schneider et al., 2005), only recently has re-search begun to explore preservice elementary teachers use of and learning from sciencecurriculum materials (Davis, 2006; Dietz & Davis, in press; Schwarz et al., in press). Theresults presented here extend this research by examining preservice elementary teachersrelationships with science curriculum materials through the lens of identity.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKIdentity, particularly role identity, has served as an important construct in research on
teachers and teaching (Bullough, Knowles, & Crow, 1992; Enyedy et al., 2006; Mahlios,2002; Smithey & Davis, 2004). In articulating a perspective on curricular role identity,we first explore theoretical perspectives on identity and role identity and then discussimplications for preservice teachers identity development.
Identity and Role IdentityIdentity can be thought of as an all-encompassing representation of a persons evaluative
stance toward interaction. . . cast in the romantic folk language of who we are (Lemke,2000, p. 283). In this way, identities exist as reifications and within relevant social practices.For teachers, identity is a function of their knowledge, beliefs, self-efficacy, and generaldispositions toward teaching practice and the evolution of these characteristics over timethrough classroom practice (Collopy, 2003; Drake, Spillane, & Hufferd-Ackles, 2001).Thus, a teachers identity is fundamentally intertwined with knowing and social membership(Lave & Wenger, 1991).
As representations, identities are multidimensional in that they originate and developacross contexts and time. Gee (20002001) describes four ways to view identity: as naturebased, institutionally based, discursive, and affinity based. Identities fashioned aroundparticular roles, or role identities, are the result of individuals classification of themselvesin relation to existing socially meaningful categories (Stets & Burke, 2000). Discussionsof teachers role identities are concerned, then, with how teachers fashion a sense of selfaround the role of teacher (Bullough et al., 1992). Teachers role identities are particularlypowerful because the role of teacher, consistent with Gees (20002001) description, isinstitutionally sanctioned, defined by unique patterns of discourse, and reinforced by sharedexperiences between teachers.
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Just as participation in inquiry-oriented science can contribute to the development ofstudents identities (Lemke, 2001; Reveles, Kelly, & Duran, 2007), teachers identitiesalso exist in and are developed through classroom practice (Enyedy et al., 2006; Lemke,2000; Sfard & Prusak, 2005). Teaching, the essential activity that defines a teacher, isa complex practice involving many different constituent practices, including the use ofcurriculum materials. While role identities can be thought of as role-specific global self-concepts, they are also differentiated in that various practices, and the meanings associatedwith those practices, constitute any particular role (Collier, 2001). As such, teachersidentities can be broadly or narrowly defined, what Collier distinguishes between as thepanoramic and zoom-lens views of role identity formation. Here, we focus on thoseaspects of preservice elementary teachers role identities specifically related to their useof curriculum materials for elementary science teaching. As one of many dimensions thatconstitute preservice elementary teachers role identities for science teaching, the notionof curricular role identity represents a more delineated or zoom-lens perspective on roleidentity.
In constructing an identity, an individual is shaped by and in turn shapes the practicesof a community (Wenger, 1998). Teachers role identity development relies on the waysin which a teacher envisions him- or herself fulfilling the role of teacher through practice.These hypothetical visions of what type of teacher an individual hopes to become are re-ferred to as role standards or designated identities (Burke & Reitzes, 1981; Collier, 2001;Sfard & Prusak, 2005). However, certain individuals have a disproportionately significantinfluence on role identity development. Sfard and Prusak (2005) refer to influential indi-viduals as significant narrators who, in the case of preservice and beginning teachers, areoften practicing teachers whose practices they seek to appropriate through socialization toprofessional teaching (Zeichner & Gore, 1990).
Individuals do not merely identify with and appropriate existing role identities but alsoactively negotiate their meaning. The ways in which individual teachers participate in aparticular community reflect their perspectives on the norms and practices of the commu-nity itself (Graue, 2005; Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998; Kozoll & Osborne,2003). However, as more peripheral participants in the teaching profession, preservice andbeginning teachers are less well positioned to actively affect change in their teaching con-texts. As such, novice teachers role identity development is more heavily characterized byrole appropriation than role negotiation.
Preservice Elementary Teachers Development of Curricular Role IdentityJust as teachers orient their role identity development in light of role standards or
designated identities, for preservice teachers, classrooms can be thought of as figuredworlds for which they are being prepared (Boaler & Greeno, 2000; Graue, 2005; Kozoll& Osborne, 2003). The frameworks they construct for role identity formation within thesefigured worlds are most heavily influenced by their experiences in three domains: their ownhistory as students, the nature of the teacher education program, and their limited classroomexperiences (Mahlios, 2002). Owing to preservice teachers limited experience in the roleof teacher, their ideas about teaching are largely based on their own past experiencesas students (Lortie, 1975). At the preservice stage of the professional continuum, identitydevelopment is heavily influenced by these powerful notions of self that, even for in-servicescience teachers, are often deeply personal (Helms, 1998).
The salience of these entrenched ideas about teaching has provided fodder for criticismsof formal teacher education (Richardson, 1996; Zeichner & Conklin, 2005; Zeichner &
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Gore, 1990). Nonetheless, just as teacher education experiences can support preserviceteachers to negotiate these ideas and learn to teach inquiry-oriented science (Crawford,1999; Windschitl, 2003), so too can they support preservice teachers learning to critiqueand adapt science curriculum materials (Davis, 2006). To put these abilities to use anddevelop robust pedagogical design capacity (Brown, 2002, in press), preservice teachersmust develop a teaching identity in which the active use of science curriculum materials isvalued and perceived as role appropriate. We define this aspect of their professional identityas a teacher as curricular role identity and explicitly seek to support its development throughformal teacher education.
Through our work as elementary science teacher educators and science curriculumdevelopers, we have investigated how preservice elementary teachers use and learn fromscience curriculum materials (Davis, 2006; Dietz & Davis, in press; Forbes & Davis, inpress). We have found Remillards (2005) model of the teachercurriculum relationshipuseful. This framework has largely been developed within the context of mathematicseducation, and we acknowledge inherent differences between the fields of mathematics andscience education. The goals and design of mathematics curricula, for example, are domain-specific and, therefore, necessarily distinct from those of science education. In addition,while mathematics education has enjoyed a prioritization...