Living together in the classroom: the coparticipatory construction of preservice teacher and novice student identities
Walker, Dawn Cox
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Designed as a qualitative investigation, this study focused on the coparticipatory interactive processes of identity construction for preservice teachers and novice students in a university child development school classroom. The theoretical perspective of the study is grounded in interactionist and social constructivist theories on the genesis of the self and in socialization theory (Baldwin, 1906; Cooley, 1902; Corsaro & Rizzo, 1988; Engestrém, 1987; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Mead, 1934; Nias, 1986; Vygotsky, 1978). Following an ethnograghic framework, data were collected in two phases. Specific data sources included participant observation, formal and informal interviews, audio and video taping of classroom interactions, and written documents (e.g., activity plans). Inductive qualitative analysis procedures were used to develop a categorical analysis of the data and to identify major themes (eg., Spradley, 1980). Four major themes were constructed from the analysis of the Phase I data: (1) Changes in interaction patterns occur as the preservice teachers assume more responsibility in the teacher role. (2) Preservice teachers’ primary focus is on self as a student, but as responsibility increases feelings about self as teacher begin to be constructed. (3) In this setting, three year-old children view school as play and themselves in the student role as "kids" who play. (4) Interactions through play enable children to experiment with the role of self and other. Four refined themes were generated in the Phase II analysis. (1) Three year-old children use physical characteristics in order to construct and classify aspects of self and other. (2) The assumption of responsibility in the teacher "position" is part of being willing to take a risk to make decisions. (3) Preservice teachers make a distinction between becoming "the" teacher and becoming "a" teacher. (4) Within the coparticipatory processes of living together in this three year-old classroom the boundaries between student and teacher often blurred in the doing. Narrative case studies are presented to illustrate the processes of constructing identity. Results are discussed in terms of the concept of bidirectional learning within Vygotsky’s (1978) zone of proximal development and the tensions of the double bind (Engestrém, 1978). The findings indicate that when teachers and students coparticipate in communication and activity to successfully resolve the tensions of the double bind, learning is bidirectional and the line between teacher and student blurs in the doing. Within these coparticipatory structures individuals open spaces to become democratic communities of learners who are constructing meaning about self and other.
- Doctoral Dissertations