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Travelling through written spaces: a nomadic enquiry into the writing of student teachers

Harrison, Michaela Jane (2014) Travelling through written spaces: a nomadic enquiry into the writing of student teachers. Doctoral thesis (EdD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The thesis sets out to explore the potential and problematics of writing for students undertaking Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in England. The focus of analysis is the written work that students produce as the final assessment piece for university-based taught units within ITE programmes. The thesis is motivated by the belief that this writing can serve as a powerful tool in student teachers’ professional development and as such can impact directly upon their effectiveness as emerging professionals. The thesis draws on the author’s experience of working with undergraduate Primary Education student teachers and is broadly based within a practitioner research paradigm. The thesis critically analyses models of student writing that promote particular notions of professional development, progress and conceptualisations of text (writing). It is argued that these models privilege and rely on an interpretation of text that takes for granted its status as a medium for representation and its primary function as that of communicating meaning. The thesis outlines and experiments with alternatives to such models, drawing on poststructuralist theory and concepts in the work of Deleuze and Guattari to rethink the potential in student teacher writing and research texts more generally. In doing so, the thesis presents an example of what happens when it is no longer assumed that text is capable of capturing writers’ true intentions which feed unproblematically into their future practice. The thesis also presents an alternative conception of reading, and questions and experiments with what happens when both student teachers and teacher educators practice reading as a process of connectability rather than a task of interpretation or extrapolation of meaning. Conventional notions of ‘data’ are also troubled and the thesis presents and enacts a critique of data as passive material. In addition to contributing to the understanding of the developmental potential in student writing, the thesis also contributes to a growing body of work that questions and reimagines what constitutes writing, research and data.

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