“Whole Teacher” Crisis: Examining Pre-service Student Teachers’ Perceptions of Professionalism
The changing nature of teacher professionalism presents an important challenge to teacher
education programs. Teacher professionalism can be broadly defined as the set of teachers’
professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions. However, with the increased accountability
and standards movement, professionalism in education often overemphasizes accountability
by prioritizing knowledge and skills over dispositions. The move in the field toward
‘professionalization’ has generally resulted in systematic reform and professional
development rather than promoted ‘professionalism.’ This paper explored pre-service
undergraduate students’ perceptions of teacher professionalism at a major university in New
Jersey. The results indicated that the students focused more on ‘performance’ and
‘external/outward aspects’ and less on recognizing the complexity and dynamics of the
teaching and learning process. The study argues that teacher education programs must be
redesigned so that pre-service students have the opportunity to discuss and develop proper
dispositions, reflect upon their perceptions, and enhance teacher professionalism.
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