Evolving Identity: A Case Study of Mentor Science Teachers

Melissa Nicole Ortega, University of Texas at El Paso


This dissertation is a case study of how mentor science teachers understood and presented their experiences, challenges they faced, and learning of being and becoming a mentor teacher while they participated in a year-long district mentoring program. The purpose of this study is to examine what science teachers learn in their experiences as mentors and the role this learning played on their identities as professional educators. According to Bullough (1997), teacher identity is of vital concern to teacher education as it is the “basis of meaning making and decision making” (p. 21). Existing research on science teacher identity indicate that a strong sense of identity leads to resilience, satisfaction, and sustaining and developing (Henderson & Bradey, 2006; Proweller & Michener, 2004; Volkmann & Anderson, 1998). Described by Avraamidou (2014) examining identity is particularly important with the field of teacher education because “it offers a comprehensive construct in with to study teacher learning that goes beyond knowledge and skills” (p. 146). This study looked within and across cases of individual science mentor teachers and their experiences within the teacher community of practice and the roles that mentoring beginning teachers played in their own continued and evolving learning and identity. This study found that mentoring experiences are learned through various identity practices. This study also found that that the stability of their mentor identities was influenced by the support of the organization and community in which they belonged. Findings revealed that identity development and sustainability occurred through experiences of mentor re-learning pedagogy and curriculum, tensions they experienced involving the perceptions of leadership role and fabricating time as a mentor, caring through mentoring, and a legacy for science education through mentoring, as analyzed through Wenger’s (1998) characteristics of identity: 1) identity as negotiated experience, 2) identity as community membership, 3) identity through learning trajectory, 4) identity as nexus of multimembership, and 5) identity as a relation between the local and the global.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Science education

Recommended Citation

Ortega, Melissa Nicole, "Evolving Identity: A Case Study of Mentor Science Teachers" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13422956.