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The journey of becoming a teacher: Indonesian pre-service teachers reflecting on their professional learning

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posted on 28.02.2017, 03:26 by Kuswandono, Paulus
This study was begun not long after the Indonesian Ministry of National Education (MONE) launched a new policy for Indonesian teachers to gain professional certification. This policy requires all teachers in Indonesia to undertake continuous upgrading programs to enhance their professional development (PD) and it awards them with a ‘sertifikat pendidik’ (an educator certificate) if they can successfully meet the requirements. Through this policy, the Indonesian government is promising certified teachers increased remuneration (double their existing salary). The scheme has attracted many students to enter teacher education although many studies claim there has not been any significant improvement in the teaching quality of the in-service teachers since the certification policy was implemented in 2007 (Halim, 2011; Napitupulu, 2012c). In the light of such claims, this study conducts an in-depth investigation into the learning and emerging professional identity of 13 pre-service teachers (PSTs) in one university in Indonesia, Guru University (a pseudonym). The focus of my study is an investigation into how those PSTs understood their own identity as prospective teachers and the ways they interpreted and made meaning of their learning and experiences through their reflections. I collected and recorded their reflections while the students were studying in the practicum courses offered on campus by Guru University (‘Practice Teaching 1/PT1’) and during the practicum teaching experiences the PSTs were having in school settings (‘Practice Teaching 2/PT2’). To provide alternative perspectives of the PSTs’ experiences, this study also investigates the views and beliefs about pre-service teacher education of the six university mentors and seven supervising teachers who worked with these PSTs during their practicum experiences. Reflection and reflective practice were foundational concepts/practices in this study, although as the study evolved they became less central. Key theorists in my critical inquiry into these concepts/practices, and in my analysis of the PSTs’ views about their pre-service reflection, include John Dewey (1910; 1916), Donald Schön (1983, 1987) and Paulo Freire (1970). The narrative-based accounts of PSTs’ experiences published by Britzman (2003) and Alsup (2006), in particular their critical analyses of PSTs’ struggles to negotiate their professional identity, are in some ways a model for the kind of research I am presenting in this thesis. I make extensive use of Bakhtin’s (1981) theories of language and of the ‘dialogic imagination’ to represent and inquire into the socio-cultural and political contexts mediating the PSTs’ voices and experiences. The reference to ‘becoming’ in the title of the thesis acknowledges the importance of both Britzman and Bakhtin to the whole study. The narratives which I obtained from the participants were collected in three phases in Indonesia. The first phase involved the university mentors (focus group discussion) and the supervising teachers (questionnaires and individual interviews); the second and third phases involved PSTs in the campus-based practicum and the school-based practicum using reflective journals, and participating in individual interviews and a focus group discussion, individual interviews, and (except for the third phase) autobiography. I devised a coding method based on Strauss and Corbin’s (1990) grounded theory in association with NVIVO 9 software, which I used to classify, describe, and analyse the narratives. This study demonstrates that the university mentors from Guru University and the supervising teachers in various Indonesian schools had widely differing views about teacher education, the role of reflection and the practicum in the ‘becoming of teachers’. (At a time when the government is attempting to improve the quality of teacher, this finding in itself is significant.) The university mentors were inclined to see the practicum from the formal aspects of teaching, such as the PSTs preparation of their lesson plans and the teachers’ skills in classroom management. Meanwhile, the supervising teachers in schools focused on the informal and relational aspects, such as leadership skills and the interpersonal relationship which the PSTs developed with their students. This study also shows that the identities which PSTs were constructing were complex and multidimensional, stemming from their different motivations for studying teaching. My account of the PSTs’ learning suggests that, in common with education practices in many parts of the world, their knowledge and identity in teaching must operate within the hegemony of standardised education. Many PSTs reported that they wanted to resist this hegemony and negotiate an alternative way of teaching, although they often felt powerless considering their status as praktikans (practicing teachers).


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Graham Parr

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Monash University. Faculty of Education. Education


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education