This study examines the contribution to and impact of formal teacher training education programs on the personal and professional development of pre-service teachers’ moral literacy. This study specifically investigates the development of pre-service teacher identity formation from the perspective of the candidates as a process of becoming. Pre-service teachers’ moral literacy development and their teacher identity formation were specifically examined throughout this study to gain an understanding as to how teacher candidates are developing as future educators.
The central research questions that guided this study are grounded in two separate bodies of literature, moral literacy and professional socialization, that are both necessary to gaining an understanding of pre-service teachers’ development as they transition from student to teacher. A grounded theory methodology was adopted to conduct the study with fourteen pre-service teachers enrolled in an elementary education teacher education program at a large public university in the state of Pennsylvania.
A number of variables emerged through the analysis process during the research study including “entry”, “motivation to become an educator”, “professional relationships, “understandings of learning”, “experiences informing a teacher identity”, “values and beliefs”, “experiences informing moral literacy”, and “connections to teaching”. These eight variables were later translated into themes through coding during the analysis process.
This study revealed that pre-service teachers’ experiences have an influence on their development as teachers. In addition, the researcher discovered that during this stage, they are in the process of moving from student to teacher as they enter the classroom. Pre-service teacher identity development is influenced both personally and professionally. The experiences that they have had as students has an impact on the type of teacher they will become in the future.
In looking at pre-service teacher moral literacy development, their beliefs and values were examined. Pre-service teachers’ values and beliefs are influenced both personally and professionally. The study also found that the model that is most appropriate to apply to pre-service teacher education is Tuana’s (2007) moral literacy framework. Because this framework looks at the development of moral literacy on different levels, it would be easily applicable to teacher education programs. In order to gain a greater understanding of pre-service teacher moral literacy development, it is important to look at each component and how it applies to teacher education.
The findings of this study contributes to the body of literature that exists surrounding pre-service teacher development and their moral literacy formation. While this study provides for a theoretical model for pre-service teacher identity development and their moral literacy formation it also provides for practical information for teacher educators who are interested in including a moral literacy component in their teacher education program. This study informs the socialization process that is associated with entering a profession for prospective teachers. Finally, a number of future projects are suggested for this study including the integration of a moral literacy framework in during the research process and also further research that could provide for a more comprehensive look into how moral literacy influences pre-service teacher identity development.