The Making of a Professional: Institutional Logics of Teacher Education and Pre-Service Teachers? Professional Identity Formation
Maya Kaul

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Teacher Education/Teaching and Learning
Over the last several decades, teacher education reform has been positioned as a key policy lever for driving greater racial equity in the education system. Although scholars and reformers have debated for decades on how to transform teacher education toward this end, these debates have historically operated on the shared assumption that structural transformations to teacher education will lead to greater racial equity. However, the field has yet to systematically explore whether these structural transformations reach teacher identity and practice in the ways policymakers expect them to. In this mixed-methods study of three teacher education programs across the US, I investigate the extent to which teacher candidates? professional identities are shaped by competing efforts to professionalize, deregulate, and democratize teacher education. Drawing on organizational and critical race theories, I first qualitatively examine the extent to which shared calls for racial equity materially shape the structures, routines, and culture of the three studied programs. Then, I consider the extent to which these organizational conditions shape and/or constrain teacher candidates? professional identity development. Finally, building on these qualitative findings, I conduct confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses of survey data to develop a measure of teacher professional identity. Together, this work will provide the field with a conceptual framework and the empirical tools to better understand the role of teachers in mediating broader reforms to teacher education. Further, this work will highlight the possibilities of teacher education programs as a lever for redressing systemic racial inequities in our education system more broadly.
About Maya Kaul
Maya Kaul is a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Committed to making teacher education and K-12 teaching more racially equitable and socially just fields, she investigates how researchers, policymakers, and practitioners can uplift the status of the K-12 teaching profession through policy and practice. More specifically, her research draws on organizational theory, sociological theories of race, and research on teaching and teacher education to examine: (1) how various stakeholders conceptualize the nature and purpose(s) of teaching, and (2) the ways in which those conceptualizations come to shape the policy environment, K-12 policy implementation, and teacher education. Maya?s scholarship has been published in AERA Open, Journal of Professional Capacity and Community, Education Sciences, as well as a range of public outlets for education policymakers and practitioners. In addition to the NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship, Maya?s doctoral work has been supported by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the Collaboratory of Teacher Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and the GAPSA-Provost Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Innovation. Prior to her doctoral studies, Maya worked as a Research and Policy Assistant at the Learning Policy Institute. She started her career as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Helsinki, where she studied Finnish approaches to teacher education and professional development. Maya holds a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics (PPE) from Pomona College.

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