Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Member

Michelle Cook

Committee Member

Cynthia Deaton

Committee Member

Danielle Herro

Committee Member

Leigh Martin


The purpose of this qualitative, longitudinal, holistic case study was to explore one secondary preservice science teacher’s (Elise) identity content and structure as she participated in a year-long clinical placement and to gain an understanding of how the context of her clinical placement triggered science teacher identity changes or persistence. Moreover, the study explored how one preservice science teacher’s incoming teacher identity influenced her teaching practice and sought to understand how science teacher identity changed or persisted in the context of her first semester as a professional science teacher. Guided by the meta-theoretical framework of the Dynamic System Model of Role Identity, teaching observations, reflections, narrative writing prompts, class assignments, surveys, and semi-structured interviews were analyzed to determine changes in identity content and structure and to determine the contextual influences that triggered changes or persistence in identity components. Elise's identity components (i.e., self-perceptions, beliefs, purpose and goals, action possibilities) changed throughout the clinical experience depending on the context of the clinical placement. The mentor/mentee relationship, misalignment between professional and personal experiences, the length of the clinical placement, and freedom to practice being a science teacher triggered changes in Elise's identity development. At times, her residency placement context strengthened her identity while at other times weakened her sense of self and career satisfaction and outlook. Elise' entered professional teaching with a student-centered, reform-minded incoming teacher identity, which included hands-on instruction and an emphasis on teaching science as a process, which influenced her teaching practice. She was able to teach in ways that aligned with her incoming science teacher identity, which included instruction that involved experimenting, investigating, and learning the skillsets of scientists while forming strong interpersonal relationships with her students. With the support of colleagues, she was able to develop a strong science teaching identity at the end of her first semester of teaching, and she was fulfilled with her science teaching career and had a positive career outlook on her teaching future. Science teacher identity research has been mostly unexplored in science education, especially in the context of a yearlong clinical placement and into the first year of teaching. A greater understanding of science teacher identity development gleaned from this dissertation will provide the knowledge needed to better support novice teachers throughout teacher preparation and professional practice, ultimately leading to persistence in the teaching profession.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.