Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Jeffery Mangram


Professional Identity, Teacher Collaboration


This research study used ethnographic research methods to examine teachers’ perceptions of their professional identities and explored the ways in which these identities were constructed and negotiated through language as they participated on an interdisciplinary collaborative team. In theoretical foundation and methodology, the study drew on theories of symbolic interactionism and discourse, as well as key theoretical understandings of identity. Data were collected from six participants over the course of nine months through interviews, participant observation, and audio-recordings of the team’s planning sessions. The findings from this study show that each participant constructed multiple identities, such as team leader or team maker, through the use of various discursive strategies. Each of these strategies shifted the teachers’ identities in moment-by-moment interactions, but also over the long term. While some of the participants’ perceptions were aligned with the identity development evident from the data, a change in their understanding of who they were as teachers was not shared by all. However, all of the teachers’ experienced a number of tensions that influenced their negotiation of identity, including those over authority, differing visions, balancing content, and their sense of the value of their work. The results of this study have significance for how teachers, administrators, and researchers think about professional identity development in the context of interdisciplinary collaboration. The study indicates that individual teachers experience collaboration differently, constructing multiple identities in the process, sometimes experiencing emotional labor to present a particular identity to their colleagues. For teachers engaging in sustained collaboration, or the administrators who want to support them, awareness of identity development and measures to ease its associated tensions are recommended.


Open Access