Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Jeannie Klienhammer-Tramill

Co-Major Professor

William Black


interpretative phenomenology, preservice teacher preparation, teacher recruitment and retention, teacher self-efficacy, urban schools


Teacher recruitment and retention challenges facing urban school contexts provided the impetus for this study. High percentages of historically marginalized students, plagued by high poverty rates and low academic performance, as well as substandard facilities and inadequate material resources, serve as causative factors inhibiting recruitment and retention of credentialed teachers in urban schools (Education Commission of the States [ECS], 1999; Guarino et al., 2006; Horng, 2009; USDOE, 2003; 2004; Wirt et al, 2004). Schools and districts attempt to meet chronic teacher shortages in hard-to-staff urban schools by creating innovative teacher preparation schemes, such as the Urban Teaching Academy (UTA). This study focuses on teacher identity formation and prospective efficacy beliefs among a group of students enrolled in UTA. The research questions were examined using interpretive phenomenological inquiry (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) through case study methodology (Yin, 2009). Findings show that the precollegiate student teachers in this study made meaning primarily from a student perspective, thus adhering to prototypical images of teaching characterized by identity markers. Salient components of definitions of teacher identity for precollegiate student teachers are Self and Care. Less relevant components for precollegiate student teachers were Emotion and Context. These components appear most influenced by the temporal distance between the precollegiate Urban Teaching Academy and actual teaching experiences during internship/practicum and subsequent teaching in a professional capacity, suggesting a need to determine whether it is possible for precollegiate student teachers to meet the emotional and contextual demands of teaching at such an early stage. Additionally, this study proposes to extend on the teacher efficacy construct by offering a model for prospective efficacy as it pertains to individuals in teacher preparation at the precollegiate and preservice levels. This model contends that beginning with the self as influenced by personal, social, cultural, historical and political knowledge sources, precollegiate student teachers begin to develop an epistemological stance towards teaching. Over time, precollegiate student teachers build identity capital grounded in the skills, knowledge and dispositions gained through access to varied knowledge sources, which develop as precollegiate student teachers learn theoretical principals of teaching, obtain and learn from performance information, and combine the theory and practice into an epistemological framework that provides impetus for ongoing synergy between theoretical and practical experiences. The broader the base of identity capital from which the precollegiate student teacher draws, the greater the likelihood that she will develop prospective efficacy, or the belief that she will be capable of fulfilling teaching roles and responsibilities in the future. This study informs the literature on precollegiate and preservice teacher identity and extends the literature on teacher efficacy.