Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Associate Professor Geoffrey Lummis

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Graeme Lock

Abstract

Research suggests that preservice teachers’ professional identity is dynamic and many factors contribute to the formation of teacher identity including prior experiences, learning communities and context. One of the parties preservice teachers have closest interactions with are mentor teachers and they might leave an impact on preservice teachers’ professional identity. However, less research seems to be done in this area. The proposed research study tried to address this gap by investigating the relationship between these two parties and its impact on the development of preservice teachers’ professional identity. The data collection occurred during a one-year Graduate Diploma of Education-Secondary (GDE-S) course in one of the universities in Western Australia. The participants in this qualitative case study were seven preservice teachers taking part in the GDE-S and their mentor teachers during their professional practice unit (practicum). The preservice teachers attended three rounds of semi-structured interviews: at the outset of the first placement, at the end of the first placement, and at the end of the second placement. The mentor teachers comprising 16, also attended semi-structured interviews before and after each placement. In addition, the researcher conducted two classroom observations and two observations of debriefing sessions in each placement on each preservice teacher. The preservice teachers were also invited to keep a reflective journal, with a total of 24 gathered over the course of the program. The findings of this study revealed that when the mentoring relationship was positive and the preservice teachers’ expectations of their mentors were met, they felt more confident as a teacher and developed a teacher voice. However, the confidence declined in some preservice teachers and they felt they did not improve when they experienced a partially negative mentoring relationship. This study provides implications for preservice teacher education and offers guidelines for improving mentor teacher-preservice teacher relationship with a view to enhancing preservice teachers’ professional identity and increasing teacher retention.

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