CONSTRUCTING PRE-SERVICE TEACHER IDENTITY WITHIN THE DISCOURSE OF WRITING ASSESSMENT
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The practice of writing is increasingly valued across the curriculum as institutions recognize the social and psychological benefits of writing in all contexts. Much of the literature supports reflective writing as a discursive method of identity formation, which is always situated in specific contexts and relationships. When assessing student writing, the instructor’s feedback becomes part of that discursive process, intertextually bound with the student’s identity. The following study situates writing assessment in two teacher education courses to explore how pre-service teacher identity is constructed not just within students’ reflective writing but also within instructors’ assessment of their writing. Informed by sociocultural learning theory, I attend to the belief that teacher education students learn identity through the discursive relationship enacted between writing and feedback. A total of 41 participants were recruited for the study. These participants are undergraduate students enrolled in their first year in the Teacher Education Program at WSU. The courses in which these students are enrolled are writing-intensive: both instructors are trained in the practice of personalized reflective feedback and assign many reflective writing assignments. A discourse analysis of student work was carried out by the researcher to explore traces of identity formation in response to instructor feedback. The results are presented as four distinct cases identified by the pseudonyms Roebuck, Compton, Roberta and Kandler. These individual cases allow the researcher to trace the development of identity as an iterative process that relies on the personal relationship between each student and the instructor. The themes that emerged in this study are: the use of deflection to resist reflection, the performance of an “expert” to be recognized as proficient, and the relational dialogism that often leads to reflection. The results are discussed and contextualized so that future researchers and practitioners can carry the themes of this study forward into new contexts and situations.