The academic identity of students in early childhood field-based initial teacher education
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Citation:Dunham, N. (2016). The academic identity of students in early childhood field-based initial teacher education. An unpublished thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Education), Unitec Institute of Technology.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3284
Student academic identity is defined as the appropriation of academic values and practices within a sense of self, reflecting the willingness and commitment to the practices of the academic community (White & Lowenthal, 2011). As such academic identity is an important aspect of becoming academically literate. Within this research student academic identity is identified as consisting of five elements: self-theory, achievement indicators, agency-beliefs, motivation and dispositions. There is limited research presenting a holistic view of the phenomenon examining all of these five elements. Furthermore, my extensive search yielded no available literature on student academic identity pertaining to early childhood Field-Based Initial Teacher Education (FBITE) in Aotearoa New Zealand. With this in mind, the overall aim of this research was to critically examine the nature and significance of academic identity for students in early childhood FBITE in Aotearoa New Zealand. To achieve this aim, questions were posed which explored how students experienced academic identity; the multiple identities of students and their relationship to student academic identity; the multiple contexts of learning and their relationship to student academic identity; and finally the significance of student academic identity. A structural-constructivist approach was used to investigate the significance of context on personal experiences of academic identity. The external contexts of significance included: programmes of study, the early childhood community and the wider socio-political context of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Within this theoretical framework an interpretive qualitative research design was used with participation from four tertiary providers of FBITE as well as from Associate Teachers from the early childhood community. Data were collected from students, Teacher Educators and Associate Teachers utilising open ended questionnaires, group and individual interviews, in conjunction with documentary analysis. The findings show that, for students in FBITE programmes, engagement in academic ways of being, knowing and doing is ultimately driven by a desire to achieve professional credentialing standards. As such student academic identity is intertwined with emerging professional identities, which hold precedence. It was identified that the development of a student academic identity is complex, influenced by learning contexts and the conflicting roles and commitments held in addition to being a student. The research findings have implications for curriculum design, programme development, student academic literacies and regulation of programmes of initial teacher education.