Dynamics of Teacher Identity Construction: Indonesian Teachers in Finnish International Teacher Programme

Satia Zen

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


This dissertation explores the dynamics of teacher identity construction as a narrative process reflecting dialogical negotiation in the specific context of the International Teacher Programme (ITP). In this study, the term dynamics in the title refers to processes that produce changes in teacher identity. The study aims to describe how these processes occur as a negotiation through positioning and to identify the supporting mechanisms that are used in participants' narratives.

Teacher identity in this study is viewed from the perspective of narrative as a foundation of reality construction. Based on this perspective, teacher identity is constructed through and in narratives, and leads to the construction of narrative identity. Moreover, a dialogical perspective is used to explore how negotiation occurs through changes in positioning or repositioning. In this study, positions refer to the narrative positions that participants used to describe their experiences on the programme and after they returned to their schools. The specific aims of the dissertation are: first, to describe the dynamics of repositioning; second, to identify the mechanisms used in the teachers’ narratives that support the repositioning process.

The study was conducted as qualitative research with a narrative approach. The context of the study is an international teacher programme between Indonesia and Finland implemented in the period 2015 to 2017. The respondents (of the study) are participants of the programme from Indonesia who were working as teachers in Aceh, Indonesia. The data were gathered in two phases, during learning in 2017 in Finland and after graduation in 2019 in Indonesia, supported by the researcher's observations and interaction in the context.

Data were gathered mainly through narrative interviews with thirteen participants in Bahasa Indonesia. The data consist of narratives of the participants’ experiences from admission, learning, their sojourn in Finland, graduation and after they returned to school. Data were analysed using narrative thematic analysis and positional analysis to identify themes and patterns of individual repositioning and across participants.

The findings from the three publications comprising this dissertation describe the dynamics of dialogical repositioning that is supported by three narrative mechanisms. First, the mechanism of constructing narrative space, serves as a narrative interpretation of the Indonesian and Finnish contexts. This mechanism supports the repositioning process across diverse spatial frames. Second, the mechanism of gaining narrative capital, includes new positions and new perspectives that may influence how they view themselves as teachers. Third, the mechanism of evolving plots supports individual coherence. This mechanism may also provide coherence in organising and combining diverse positions associated with a new teacher identity.

These narratives also reflect participants’ negotiation with the post-conflict and post-tsunami context in Aceh. Specifically, how their narratives describe changes in the way they perceive, understand and respond to the educational challenges in this region. Some of participants’ initial positioning and subsequent repositioning in their narratives may reflect this negotiation. This additional dimension may provide relevant insights into teachers and teacher education in other similarly challenging contexts.

The findings of this study highlight the dialogical nature of negotiation in teacher professional identity construction on the international teacher programme. Earlier studies describe how participating in international teacher education provides opportunities to gain knowledge, skills and competences. The findings from this study further highlight the significance of identity construction as an integral part of this acquisition. By describing the dynamics of the negotiation process through repositioning and identifying the narrative mechanism that supports it, the findings also highlight the foundational relationship between narrative and teacher identity construction.

The practical implication of this study is to stimulate discussion on the type of support needed in international teacher education that may sustain continuous identity construction. Such support may include pedagogical support and critical reflections on the past, present, and future conceptualisation of participants’ identities. Additionally, teacher education also needs to incorporate practices that support the construction of narrative spaces as part of its process. As changes in education continue to assume a rapid and radical character globally, teachers will keep encountering novel experiences that challenge their identity conception. This dissertation contributes towards a movement in this direction by highlighting the dynamics of the negotiation process in teacher professional identity construction.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-3076-7
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


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