University of Northern Colorado (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 591-594
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Educators are in a unique position to act as change agents in the educational reform process essential in many areas of the globe. Leading the educational reform inventory of requisite actions is the need to narrow the achievement gap among students. The first line of defense in improving students’ learning is the enhancement of instruction in teacher education programs and a similar expansion in the professional development of teachers during in-service programs. An examination of why we, as educators, wish to teach, what inspired us to teach, and past experiences as students are tantamount to the curricula of the school. Knowing the answers to these questions may be the required impetus for improving student learning. Therefore, the utilization of self-reflection as a method for improvement through self-examination should be central to pre-service teacher candidates and can be an effective tool in professional development programs of seasoned educators. In this manner, teachers take ownership of their methods and their raison d'être; change is fostered through an examination of one’s identity as an educator. Identity formation as an educator is often neglected in training programs, however, essential in the healthy development of a professional, career-minded professional, often leading to transformation.

Autoethnography becomes the methodology by which we explore our identities; it becomes a combination of research, writing, and narrative. Ellis and Bochner (2000) define autoethnography as “autobiographies that self-consciously explore the interplay of the introspective, personally engaged self with cultural descriptions mediated through language, history, and ethnographic explanation.” According to Stinson (2009), the research-educator uses multiple means of reconstructing experience: memory of past experiences, videotaped lessons, student commentary, and reflective journaling. These means of data collection assist the educator in analyzing data to create the narrative autoethnography. The narrative gives “voice” (Stinson, 2009) to the educator and serves as a means of personal and professional growth.

The presentation will focus on the distinctive characteristics of autoethnography and application of this methodology in teacher training/education departments with interviews from students, professors, and administrators. Specific attention will be given to collecting personal experience data, collecting self-reflection and external data, and managing, analyzing, and interpreting data in writing of the narrative. Further discussion will addresses the threefold benefits of autoethnography as a “useful and powerful tool for researchers and practitioners who deal with human relations in multicultural settings” that can: offer a research-method-friendly approach for researchers and readers; enhance cultural understanding of self and others; and serve as a potential to transform self and others to motivate them to work toward cross-cultural coalition building. (Chang, 2008)

Ultimately, Hayler (2011) explains that autoethnography led him to a full-time position in teacher education with a new vision. He stated, ”Exploring the experience of becoming and being a teacher educator from a number of perspectives and contexts in studying the profession for the first time gave me a new, clearer, more positive perspective of the role of myself. I am learning and teaching again ... and this time it will be different.”
Autoethnography, student teachers, pre-service teacher training, teacher training, higher education.