Enhancing the Development of Pre-service Teacher Professional Identity via an Online Classroom simulation
The development of a professional identity plays an important part in pre-service teacher education. However, very little is explicitly taught about how one can develop a teacher professional identity via pre-service teacher education (Allen, 2005:1). Rather, as a pre-service teacher progresses through their degree, they are expected to develop their professional identity via university coursework (theory), field experiences (practice), and most importantly through the connections they make between theory and practice. This paper reports on a comparative case study of first and final year pre-service teachers enrolled in an undergraduate education degree who engaged with an online classroom simulation. The two cases are compared and contrasted using the theoretical construct of teacher professional identity. The findings indicated the first year pre-service teachers were able to identify and articulate their emerging teaching philosophy and began to visualise themselves in the role of a classroom teacher. This was seen as evidence of developing their own professional identity that may have been enhanced by their experience with the simulation. By way of comparison, the final year pre-service teachers were able to draw upon their previous experiences and knowledge whilst engaging with the simulation to articulate their philosophy of teaching and make important connections between their university coursework and field experiences. They also made use of the available cognitive tools in the simulation to reflect upon experiences that they saw as contributing to their future role as a teacher. In this way the simulation enhanced the professional identity of these participants.