Positional identity and science teacher professional development



The aim of this study was to understand the positional identity of three African American secondary science teachers. Positional identity was operationally defined in terms of race, ethnicity, economic status, gender, religion, and age. Positional identity was posited to inform why diverse teachers with differing knowledge and experiences in science exist. An analysis of the findings suggested that the teachers' positional identity was defined beyond race, ethnicity and gender. Although the three science teachers came from very similar social backgrounds and were members of the same racial/ethnic group (African American), their positionality manifested itself in different ways: meanings of their life experiences; orientations to professional development; and future career goals in science education. Thus they possessed multiple positional identities that intersected in various ways which resulted in them having different perceptions of the world and subjectivities as science teachers. Implications included addressing positional identity and the creation of professional development models that are framed around incorporating teacher identity in addition to furthering teachers' personal and professional advancement within science education. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 45: 684–710, 2008