Purdue University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 533-538
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Teacher identity is defined as a sense of teacher self that results from a productive combination of key personal and professional subjectivities or beliefs (Alsup, 2006). Much research has been done on the development of teacher identity in the K-12 arena (see Alsup, 2006) with some on instructors at the college level (see Zembylas, 2005), yet no research to date has looked at how instructors at the college level who are teaching online develop their online instructor identity. The purpose of this research is to understand the experience of first-time online instructors and how they develop their online teacher identity.

A convenience sample was used and participants (n=7) were new to online teaching with an intial online teaching experience in the fall 2012 semester. Each participant completed an online survey to collect demographic data, an initial interview, and a follow-up interview coinciding with the beginning and end of their first online course.

The interviews were analyzed qualitatively, beginning with reading through the entire data set writing notes or memos as appropriate. Thematic codes or categories were then developed as a result of this reading and aggregation of the transcribed text, as reoccuring conceptual patterns were re-stated as themes. This initial list of themes or codes was then collapsed into five preliminary themes which comprise our initial findings. After the analysis of the final set of interviews and related artifacts, we will re-visit these themes and the extent to which they are evident across all interviews and artifacts.

Preliminary Results and Future Research:
A major concern across the participants was the issue of "translation" to the online setting (content, persona, structure, time, adaptability) and how this would impact their teaching and students’ engagement. Mentioned separately was the theme of “teaching ‘joy’ and humanity" redefined. Specifically participants were uncertain if they would feel the same enjoyment they had come to know with teaching face-to-face classes. Most were not concerned with classroom management prior to teaching, actually indicating this would be less of an issue, and all said they would deal with problems one-on-one with individual students. The last major theme that emerged was the lack of control. Almost all felt over their courses with a level of frustration emerging before the courses even began.

Additional themes we are looking to examine more closely in the final interviews include outcomes and perceptions of (1) the teachers who entered into distance teaching with a positive attitude versus those who seemed biased against this format; (2) the development of teacher identity based on the amount of control the teachers had over content and strategies within their course, and (3) social presence both as projected by teacher participants and their students.

Significance of Research:
Given that online learning has grown exponentially, with over 6.1 million students taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term in the Unites States alone (Allen & Seaman, 2011), instructor training and retention is of the utmost importance. Since it is arguable that a satisfying and confident sense of teacher identity is esential for effective teaching and learning to occur, it is important that programs and institutions attend to the needs of new instructors of online courses.
Online, e-learning, teacher identity.