Student teachers’ narrative (re)construction of teacher professional identities in relation to the concept of creativity during initial teacher education in the Scottish context
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date03/12/2022
Over the past two decades, the concept of creativity has gained prominence in educational policies, exhorting nations to engage with learners in order to cultivate innovative citizens with a potential to produce new ideas or solutions through school education. Despite much attention to teachers and schools’ roles in teaching for creativity and creative teaching, teachers’ understandings of the concept of creativity and the support they receive in relation to creativity is in sufficiently explored. This research aimed to explore the ways in which student teachers perceive and engage with creativity during a period of intense professional identity (re)construction at Initial Teacher Education (ITE) stage. With an instrumental case study approach, this study looked into a one-year Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE secondary) programme (2017-18) provided by a university in Scotland, where student teachers in English and Mathematics, along with a few tutors, were key participants on the aforementioned ITE programme. Drawing on narrative identity theory, this study conceptualised teacher professional identity (TPI) as being narratively constructed, a dynamic process of constructing and reconstructing professional identity throughout a teaching career. A conceptual framework named Narrative Identity Network Theory (NINT) was formed to explore two groups of student teachers’ emerging TPIs in relation to creativity. This case study involved two semi-structured interviews with nine English student teachers and five Mathematics student teachers. It entailed holding interviews before and after the last school-based placement during the ITE year. Additionally, one semi-structured interview was given to four ITE course tutors in the same PGDE (Secondary) programme. The research involved the latter in teaching these students and sought their views on the place of creativity on their programme along with their engagement with the current cohort of student teachers. This was followed by the collection of supplementary data from field notes on classroom observations of the university-based ITE courses and key documents of ITE in Scotland. The findings gave rise to certain narrative construction and reconstruction of student teachers’ professional learning experiences. Through NINT, three interconnected clusters of narratives emerged: the individual cluster comprising understandings of subject specialism, subject learning and teaching pertaining to creativity drawing on life experiences; the relational cluster consisting of narratives on student teachers’ relationships with significant others (e.g. pupils, tutors from university and tutors from school placements) specifically during the ITE year; and the contextual cluster, which constituted student teachers’ engagement with the concept of creativity and key changes to their professional learning occurring in the context of the PGDE (Secondary) programme provided by one Scottish university. Conclusions draw attention to the complexity of creativity in classroom teaching and learning, particularly in Mathematics, a stereotypically less creative subject. With a focus on student teachers’ TPIs during ITE, the study discussed multifaceted influences on student teachers’ conceptualisation of creativity and their engagement with creative teaching, teaching for nurturing pupils’ potential as creative learners, and creativity embedded in their understandings of the subject and themselves as professional teachers. This study argues that the process of student teacher professional learning at ITE stage could be perceived as a creative process in six aspects.