Making "good" teachers: a study of power, discourse, and edtpa
In this qualitative study, I examined the ways that power operates through edTPA’s discourse of good teaching as it invites teacher candidates to act in particular ways as they attempt to be recognized as good teachers. This study was guided by three research questions: How is good teaching discursively constructed in edTPA? How do undergraduate teacher candidates at a large flagship institution in the southeastern United States position themselves in relation to edTPA’s discourse when discussing good teaching? How do undergraduate teacher candidates attempt to make themselves knowable as good teachers through the edTPA process? After situating edTPA historically and locating it as the latest in a series of educational reform efforts that stem from four decades of crisis rhetoric, I examined critiques of edTPA in the literature. Given edTPA’s controversial nature, this study aimed adds to the growing body of knowledge about edTPA and its role in teacher education. Specifically, this study endeavored to provide insight into the concerns raised by some scholars about how edTPA defines good teaching and what that means for teacher candidates and teacher education programs. In this study, I interviewed three teacher candidates who had recently completed edTPA about their understanding of good teaching and their experience with edTPA. The participants also created two artifacts related to good teaching. Foucauldian notions of discipline, power, and discourse informed the methodology used in this study. Specifically, I developed my own approach to Foucauldian discourse analysis, drawing from Willig’s (2008) stages of analysis, Saldaña’s (2013) coding methods, and Gee’s (2011b) tools for analyzing discourse, and used these methods to identify discursive constructions of good teaching in the edTPA handbook (Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity, 2017b) as well as to examine teacher candidates’ positionings and practices relative to those discursive constructions. I found that teacher candidates engaged in behaviors that they felt would give them the best chance of being recognized as good teachers by edTPA. These practices included strategic portfolio submissions and foregoing valued teaching practices in order to engage in a practice that aligned with edTPA’s discourse of good teaching. These findings raise important questions about what value edTPA adds to teacher education.