Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dan Liston

Second Advisor

Susan Jurow

Third Advisor

Ben Kirshner

Fourth Advisor

Robert Craig

Fifth Advisor

Jennie Whitcomb

Abstract

Teacher professional identity plays a key role in teacher effectiveness and retention and has a direct impact on classroom practice. While there are many factors that contribute to the development of that identity, much of the focus in the literature has been on the individual. Social practice and interaction, however, play equally important roles in a teacher’s identity formation and growth. The purpose of this study is to more deeply explore the intersection of the individual teacher’s experiences and history and the individual’s participation in communities of practice in that identity development and the impact of that overlap in her understanding of her role as a teacher.

Grounded in research on communities of practice and drawing on the theory of habitus, this study took place in a specific context - a Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) school - and included three case studies of teachers there. It focused on the early influences and histories of the individuals, their professional experiences, and their participation in communities of practice while at the KIPP school. Research data were collected through individual interviews, classroom and professional development and meeting observations and artifact collection. The subjects’ learning trajectories provided insight into the ways in which habitus and personal history merge with professional interaction and development to form an understanding of their roles as educators.

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