Download the full-sized PDF of Borderlands of Possibility: An Interpretive Case Study Exploring the Construction of Professional Identity with Intern TeachersDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Borderlands of Possibility: An Interpretive Case Study Exploring the Construction of Professional Identity with Intern Teachers Open Access


Other title
borderland space
field experience
professional identity
intern teachers
interpretive case study
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Allan, Sharon L
Supervisor and department
Dr. Leah Fowler, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge
Dr. Jill McClay, Department of Elementary Education, University of Alberta
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Patrick Lewis, Faculty of Education, University of Regina
Dr. Jerine Pegg, Department of Elementary Education, University of Alberta
Dr. Anna Kirova, Department of Elementary Education, University of Alberta
Department of Elementary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Students enrolled in Bachelor of Education degree programs engage in academic study and field experiences that both validate and challenge their existing understandings of who they are and who they are becoming: their professional identity. This interpretive case study explored the ways in which four intern teachers constructed professional understandings during the 15 weeks of their culminating field experience: a borderland space. Ecologically defined as an ecotone, this time in-between - of being a student and becoming a teacher - is a zone of transition, a crossroads of being and becoming. Using a series of conversational interviews where, together, the researcher and the participants explored the experience of living on the borderland, this study revealed the challenges of constructing a professional identity as well as the ways in which these intern teachers gradually, over time and in response to circumstances and professional opportunities, assumed the subject position: teacher. Four essential aspects of this borderland experience have been distilled from the findings of this inquiry and arranged into a conceptual framework to assist teacher educators as they craft curriculum capable of engaging student teachers, intentionally and purposefully, in the consideration of who they are becoming as teachers. Specific recommendations emerging from this inquiry are threefold: first, teacher educators need to explore the ways in which academic coursework prepares student teachers for the relational expectations of the classroom. Second, student teachers should be encouraged to become integrally involved in the life of the school and, more broadly, their educational community; and third, field experience supervisors need to purposefully invite and support conversations with mentor teachers about their critical role as the more capable colleague. This inquiry suggests two points of departure for further research. First, there is need to look more closely at the stories student teachers tell during their final field experience, especially narratives of difficulty, and the ways in which they work to integrate these experiences into the overarching narrative of their lives. Second, while this inquiry focused on student teachers during their final practicum, an essential aspect of their experience was the relationship between the novice and a more capable colleague. In order to deepen and extend our understanding of this in-between time of transition, a crossroads of being and becoming, more needs to be known about the nature of this crucial relationship on these borderlands of possibility.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (PDF/A)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 19335258
Last modified: 2016:06:24 18:29:40-06:00
Filename: Allan_Sharon_L_201506_PhD.pdf
Original checksum: c5cd3f98292f058a6e9ea7e66e42fc47
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date