Mind the Gaps: A Narrative Inquiry into Conceptualizations of Taiwanese Dance Specialist Schoolteachers’ Professional Identity
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
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Abstract This study brings together many of the concerns elaborated by other educational researchers: teachers’ voice, teachers’ professional identities, teachers’ lives and work, and teaching professionalism in research in dance education. It aims to study the life stories of school teachers who were initially trained to be dance performers. Using a biographical approach, the life stories of nine Taiwanese secondary school teachers are collected to investigate the influences of their previous experiences, such as dance learning experience, initial teacher training experience, teacher role models, significant people and critical moments, in relation to their notions of professional identity. As this research is based on teachers’ accounts, it brings together nine individual life stories and allows us to compare the existing literature to contribute to educational research and research in dance education in a number of ways. First, the study takes a particular methodological approach, the narrative approach, to conduct a small scale study in a new area, research in dance education. Second, this study carries out empirical work, exploring the professional identity of dance specialist teachers, something not done before. Third, this study applies the existing knowledge from educational research to research in dance in education. Fourth, this study applies an already well-known theory, Wenger’s theories of identity in communities of practice and boundary encounters, but with a new interpretation to investigate the process of identity conceptualization. Fifth, this study tests an old issue – teachers’ professional identity – by exploring teachers’ notions of self that draw upon their previous experiences. Previous relevant studies, however, have been in a Western context; this study is within a Taiwanese context. The complexity of dance in education in the Taiwanese curriculum is highlighted, and the findings offer a picture of a developing sense of dance-trained teachers’ artist-self and teacher-self, and details of the different degrees of influences of previous experiences to the identity conceptualization. Importantly, the connections between the conceptions of the professional identity teachers have and their concepts of the teaching profession are explored. In particular, their voices on professional development are shown throughout the changes to their personal concepts of teacher professionalism, which leads to an argument for professional sharing as a key to supporting teachers in the profession.
PhD in Education