Theses Doctoral

Affect[ing] the Theory-Practice Gap in Social Justice Teacher Education: Exploring Student Teachers’ “Stuck Moments”

Colmenares, Erica Eva

Set within a discursive field of humanist and neoliberal thought, this post-qualitative study attended to student teachers’ “stuck moments” in a university-based, social justice-oriented teacher education program (SJTE). It sought to problematize the familiar tendency of ascribing student teachers’ stuck moments as symptomatic of the theory-practice gap, an argument frequently lobbied by policy makers to dismantle university-based teacher education in favor of alternative (read: more lucrative) programs. Challenging the representational logic that undergirds prevailing conceptualizations of stuckness and the theory-practice gap obsession in teacher education, this study conceptualized stuck moments as a fluid, moving assemblage of bodies (human and nonhuman), and discursive, affective, and material forces.
Informed by posthumanist theories of affect, this case study of six preservice teachers enrolled in an SJTE program used a rhizomatic mapping process that entailed assembling a series of wonder cabinets to map the discursive, affective, and material forces that shape student teachers’ stuck moment(s) and explore what these stuck moments do to student teachers. Data sources included field notes and jottings, individual and group conversations, and the creation of wonder cabinets of stuckness.
The findings of this study suggest that the materiality of field placement sites (i.e., the physical and discursive), the pressure on student teachers to achieve teaching mastery, participants’ desire to have an impact on their students, and the challenges of enacting critical/justice practices, constitute the stuck moment assemblage. These constituting elements also illuminate the infiltration of learning discourses in student teachers’ stuckness. With their focus on mastery, normative teacher identity categories, measurable goals, and telos-driven progress narratives, learning discourses—while seductive for student teachers—collide with the tenuousness and uncertainty of social justice work. These discourses also generate and intensify the negative affects that animate student teachers’ stuck moments. These affects include, among others, worry, shame, and loneliness. This research foregrounds how stuckness holds the potential to simultaneously expose and oppose the conflicting discourses, affective attachments, and intensities, that student teachers encounter as they navigate through the various spaces of their SJTE program.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Friedrich, Dani
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 14, 2018