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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Investigating Teachers' Identity Development in a Hybrid Course to Prepare Online Teachers
by Hafsa, Syeda Farzana, Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2019, 500; 13815257
Abstract (Summary)

Given the increased number of online courses offered every year across the world, it has become imperative that teacher preparation programs prepare high quality online teachers. Research suggest that teachers' professional identity can greatly affect their self-efficacy, confidence and competence, as well as the curricular and pedagogic decisions they will make. Therefore, it is important that online teacher preparation programs pay attention to what kind of online teachers they want their participants to aspire to be, and create learning experiences that support that identity development – above and beyond learning how to use specific digital tools, resources, and online teaching practices.

To contribute to this goal, in my study, I investigated the online teacher identity development of a group of graduate students in the context of a course designed to prepare them to teach online. The aim of my study was to understand what kind of identity the participants developed as online teachers (defined as what kind of online teachers they aspire to be), and which course activities most influenced that development, with the ultimate goal of informing the design of courses and programs that can better support novice online teachers' identity development so that they can become more effective online teachers.

This study took place in the context of a specific section of a graduate course preparing online teachers at the Warner School of Education.The study was informed by the following overarching question: How can we positively affect the identity development of novice online teachers? More specifically, I investigated the following research questions in the context of this specific course:

1. What kind of online teacher did each participant aspire to be at the end of the course, and how did it differ from where they started?

2. How did the participants take on the opportunities for participation and recognition offered in the course to support their identity development?

Following a case-study methodology, I collected a rich set of data from two rounds of semi-structured interviews, as well as course artifacts such as the syllabus and lesson plans, students' online written work (including reflective journals, discussion boards, lesson plans for online modules, and final reflection papers), and researcher memos. I used qualitative methods to analyze the data, using identity theory as the main theoretical framework. The findings show that, as a result of this semester-long course, changes did occur in how these novice online teachers perceived online learning and teaching; as well as the values and aspirations they developed for the kind of online teachers each of them wanted to be.

The findings also suggest that the course experiences that most affected these participants' identity were: participation in carefully structured experiences as online learners and experiences as online teachers, accompanied by multiple opportunities for recognition of that participation – from self, from classmates and from the course instructor. Most importantly, the findings indicate that the participants perceived online teacher identity as a component of their overall teacher identity – not as a separate identity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Borasi, Raffaella
Commitee: Meuwissen, Kevin, Olsan, Tobie H.
School: University of Rochester
Department: Eucation and Human Development
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Teacher education, Personality psychology, Educational technology
Keywords: Novice online teachers, Online learning, Online teacher identity, Online teaching, Teacher identity development, Teacher professional identity
Publication Number: 13815257
ISBN: 978-1-392-15075-7
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