Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education and Human Services


Educational Foundations

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Mark Weinstein

Committee Member

Maughn Gregory

Committee Member

David Kennedy


This dissertation uses a qualitative approach to examine the sources informing professional identity development in pre-service teachers. The central questions which guided this study are grounded within a few separate bodies of literature: moral education, identity theory, teacher education, and educational policy.

The data of this study revealed a trend among participants: Pre-service teachers view teaching first and foremost as a moral act. The study found that the beliefs and attitudes held by pre-service teachers about the identity of educators can be conceptualized in sixteen separate ways, across three separate codes toward teaching. In addition to teaching as a moral act, participants also indicated that the role of teachers might be managerial or transformational.

The findings of this study and their implications contribute to the narrow body of literature that exists concerning professional identity of pre-service teachers. The project also serves to inform the structure and design of teacher education programs with an emphasis on adapting to the assessment-driven climate of teaching in the 21st Century. Two practical suggestions for teacher training programs are given based on the trends that emerged from the data: First, teacher education programs must consider the factors that inform professional identity in order to avoid preparing students who will eventually burn out. Second, preparing students in multicultural, social justice, and culturallyresponsive pedagogy can be an outlet to put teacher identity to work in the classroom.