Becoming the Teacher I Never Had: An Investigation of Identity, Motivation, and Belief Systems in Preservice and Inservice Teachers’ with a Desire to Teach Students with Gifts and Talents
Content about learners with gifts and talents is not necessarily a part of most teacher education programs. Without high quality training and professional development opportunities, preservice and inservice teachers are left with no tools to identify and serve the students with gifts and talents. However, adding more content is not enough. The successful translation of training and professional development into effective practice depends on understanding teacher motivation, debunking misconceptions, building adequate knowledge base, and building teacher identity. I adopted several theoretical perspectives in this study: teacher identity formation (Gardner & Kaplan, 2018), Teacher Efficacy (Tschannen-Moran et al., 1998), Teacher Goal Orientations (Butler, 2007), beliefs about gifted learners and gifted education (Gagne & Nadeau, 1991; McCoach & Siegle, 2007), desire to teach (Watt & Richardson, 2007). My participants were 236 preservice teachers who desire to teach learners with gifts and talents and inservice teachers in gifted education.
The objectives of this mixed-methods investigation were: (1) identifying the differences between preservice and inservice teachers in measures of identity, beliefs, motivation, and desire to teach learners with gifts and talents, (2) modeling the structural relationships among dimensions of identity, motivation, beliefs, and desire to teach, and (3) understanding how participants experiences and perceptions inform their identity, motivation, and belief systems. I used a combination of Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA), Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and qualitative thematic analysis to answer my research questions.
Findings revealed inservice teachers (n=155) have high levels of relational goals, instructional efficacy, positive beliefs, and teacher identity, while preservice teachers (n=81) have high levels of intrinsic motivation and social value for gifted education. SEM showed that teacher identity, mastery goals, influenced positive beliefs; teacher identity was influenced by efficacy, mastery and relational goals. The strongest predictors of desire to teach learners with gifts and talents were teacher identity, teacher efficacy, and relational goals. Qualitative findings indicated that self-perceptions as gifted played a meaningful role in participants deciding to become teachers, understanding the needs of gifted learners, and advocating for gifted education.