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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Imagining student teacher identities through photo elicitation interview and Lacan's psychoanalytic concepts Sarte, John Michael


This research utilizes photo elicitation interviews to examine the professional identities of student teachers as it is performed during a Teacher Education Program (TEP). Teacher identity research suggests that positive identification is associated with less teacher burnout and increased commitment to and performance of teaching responsibilities (Day, 2002; Day, Elliot, & Kington, 2005). In addition, the use of visual metaphors in conjunction with narratives is considered to be a productive way of encouraging student teachers to seriously reflect on their identities (Sumsion, 2002; Weber & Mitchell, 1996). Six student teachers from a Canadian university TEP created photographs prior to each interview. I recommended that participants take pictures of objects and places that they associate with feeling and acting like a teacher or, conversely, a student. Using their photos as a starting point, I interviewed each participant between three and six times. The image, Lacan’s Imaginary register, is critical to this work despite the usual dependence on words, the Symbolic. Significantly, it is the photo that covers up the Real—what the participant and researcher are incapable of saying in the Symbolic. The image functions like a dream, a manifestation of the unconscious, and, as such, it triggers an opportunity to formulate new interpretations. The structure of the dissertation is atypical and intends to illustrate Lacan’s theories using data. Juxtaposing elements of psychoanalysis with data analysis demonstrates a method of studying the subtle and uneven shifts in the identifications of student teachers while applying Lacan’s (2007) discourse of the Analyst as a lens. Following Jackson and Mazzei (2012), “plugging data into theory into data” (p. 13) is intentionally disruptive and this method is used in this dissertation to progressively introduce and then develop Lacanian concepts, such as mirror stage theory, the ego, the punctum, the gaze, and the Theory of Four Discourses, all of which are central to the research. The photos elicit discussions provoking the participants and researcher to say more than they intended. Consequently, we learn that identities are relatively stable, students and teachers experience school spaces differently, and there are culturally significant tokens that constitute a teacher subject.

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