Theses Doctoral

Early-Career Art Teacher Educators’ Professional Tensions as Catalysts for Growth: A Phenomenological Multi-Case Study

Johnson, Nicole Pamela

University-based teacher educators’ first three years on the job are often imbued with tension, as they must renegotiate their professional identities and pedagogical philosophies in relation to ambiguous and sometimes conflicting expectations of what they should do and stand for in this role. As role models for aspiring art teachers, art teacher educators have a powerful influence on their pre-service students’ views of teaching, and on their emergent professional dispositions. However, despite the moral and intellectual significance of their work, and the diversity of their identities and work contexts, research on this population is limited and does not reflect current demographics in the field. While existing studies suggest some of the tensions that art teacher educators—both new and veteran—face on the job, research has not yet explored how new faculty members, specifically, experience their earliest years in the role nor how they learn to develop personally authentic art teacher education pedagogy. This qualitative multi-case study responds to these gaps in the literature, and to the understanding that new knowledge-for-practice is often generated within spaces of creative tension such as career transition.

The study participants were eight full-time art education faculty members with less than three years in the role. Individual and cross-case analysis of data collected through semi-structured interviews, qualitative questionnaires, and reflective tasks, revealed that participants’ tensions were predominantly influenced by discrepancies between (1) their established occupational roles/identities and practices, and expectations placed upon them in the art teacher educator role that they had not fully anticipated, and (2) their own, and others’ art-education-related (ideological) values. Most of the participants identified strongly with discipline-specific values (e.g., being grounded in activism and arts-informed social justice). These values functioned as core elements of their professional identities and of their teaching, research, and scholarship. However, in some cases, there were difficulties in translating these values into effective art teacher education pedagogical content knowledge.

The data analysis suggested that through reflecting on tensions, participants gained increased professional self-understanding and keener awareness of the forces that enable or constrain the enactment of their personal pedagogical values. Additionally, the data suggest that greater intentional preparation and support for this role (particularly mentorship that validates their established identities and backgrounds) prior to and during the early years, could greatly benefit art teacher educators’ adjustments into the academy and facilitate their building of pedagogical content knowledge for this role.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Hafeli, Mary Claire
Burton, Judith M.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2021