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How do teachers find professional autonomy?

The College of Education & Human Development created the Dean’s Doctoral Research Fellowship to recognize newly-admitted doctoral students for their outstanding scholarly accomplishments and academic potential. As fellows, they receive funding that supports their research projects and helps them become scholars who make significant contributions to their field of study. 

This issue of Research & Innovation highlights a selection of their research. 

by Claire Miller 

How do teachers make sense of their own professional identities?

Headshot of Kayla Myers

Kayla Myers

Doctoral fellow Kayla Myers teamed up with Susan Cannon, another doctoral fellow, and Assistant Professor Sarah Bridges-Rhoads to find out how preservice teachers talk about and practice professional autonomy and freedom.

Myers and her colleagues have collected data from students’ course assignments, in-class activities and students’ conversations with faculty about the way teachers are portrayed in various contexts, including popular culture, educational policy, news media and conversations among teachers.

“A preliminary analysis of our data suggests that examining teaching archetypes with preservice teachers helps them develop and use strategies for exercising professional autonomy,” she said. “Cultivating such strategies is particularly important given the multiple and conflicting expectations of what it means to be a teacher in the 21st century.”