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Developing teacher professional identity through online learning : a social capital perspective

conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by J Balatti, Cecily Knight, M Haase, L Henderson
Social capital has been defined as the ‘networks, together with shared norms, values and understandings which facilitate cooperation within or amongst groups’ (ABS, 2004, p. 5). Fundamental to social capital theory is the proposition that networks of relationships can facilitate access to resources of value to individuals or groups for specific purposes. A social capital perspective to designing learning environments in preservice teacher education would suggest that the quality of the learning experienced is impacted by the networks to which preservice teachers have access, the resources that are available within those networks, and the norms and levels of trust that shape the kinds of interactions that take place within those networks.This paper describes and critiques an online learning environment that was designed from a social capital perspective to help preservice teachers learn a professional teacher identity. The online activity formed part of a subject in the second year of a four year undergraduate education degree at an Australian university. Developing or learning a professional identity is an ongoing process that is social in nature and negotiated in communities of practice (Wenger, 1998). Such communities of practice developed in the online environment of this case.In the study, changes to the identity resources (Falk & Balatti, 2003) associated with a teacher professional identity were considered as evidence of learning. The data analysed comprised the online text preservice teachers produced and their responses to survey questions concerning the learning they experienced over the semester-long subject.Two findings of note are the potential for online interaction of the kind described in this paper to develop professional literacies and to normalise the deprivatisation of practice. In an era in which teaching practice is being made more visible and accountable to the public, these two professional identity resources are important in developing the professional confidence necessary for sustainable teaching careers. A dilemma that remained unresolved in the study was the voluntary nature of the participation in the online activities.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)


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Townsville, Qld.


Australian Teacher Education Association

Place of Publication

Townsville, Qld.

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

James Cook University;

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Name of Conference

Australian Teacher Education Association. Conference