New science teacher identity development in a Texas disciplinary alternative education program
Middleton, John R.
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Professional identity development in teachers has emerged as a subfield of identity theory research (Luehmann, 2007; Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004). Using professional identity theory as a research lens allows personal experiences to be analyzed through the professional practices, values, beliefs and commitments of teachers (Luehmann, 2007). No teacher identity research has been completed in Texas Disciplinary Alternative Program (DAEP) setting; therefore, a gap within the literature pertaining to DAEP science teacher identity development is apparent. The purpose of this study was to investigate the professional identity development of a first-year science teacher by focusing on the central research question: What factors in a Texas DAEP affect the development of a first-year science teacher’s identity? Using a qualitative case study methodology that adopts identity theory as an interpretive lens, the current study follows a first-year science teacher as she develops her science teacher identity while working in an alternative setting. This study incorporates the use of teacher interviews, written and visual narratives, and classroom observations to explore how student demographics and the institutional characteristics of a DAEP influence the development of professional identity in a first-year science teacher. The findings indicate the case under study experienced the same challenges and hardships as teachers in mainstream public schools; only in a DAEP she experienced them more frequently and at a higher intensity. The implications of this study suggests teacher education programs should include training in DAEP and other alternative settings, as well as further research into DAEP administration and leadership.