Pre-Service Teachers using Social Media: Self-Concept in Online Spaces
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AbstractWith the expansion of personal interactions to online spaces, specifically through social media, individual identity and self-concept development can be subjected to a variety of interactions, experiences, and comparisons. For pre-service teachers (PTs), interactions through social media can be experienced through a personal and professional lens. This research aimed to understand better the relationship between PT self-concept and social media use. A survey design method with Likert scale instruments was used to determine potential correlations between PT self-concept clarity and self-presentation across personal and professional spheres online. Univariate correlational analyses were run between the four Likert scale tools, and results indicated a weak, positive relationship between self-concept clarity and self-presentation. Self-concept differentiation was addressed by analyzing the open-ended questions at the end of the survey, using a thematic qualitative approach. Results of the qualitative analysis suggested that PTs exhibited a high level of self-concept differentiation as they considered the content of what they posted and presented online for both personal and professional accounts, meaning they accurately utilized the desired self-concept traits for the differing environments. The findings showed that PTs’ self-presentation in online spaces often aligned with their understanding of who they are and who they want to be, and they consider a variety of scenarios when presenting themselves online, including future careers, self-image, and the professionalism of teaching. The findings also showed that PTs compare themselves to others within the program, often feeling a sensation of intimidation, competitiveness, and perfectionism. An implication for teacher education is for programs to provide additional support for PTs who struggle to navigate the competitiveness of a professional program, their own professional identity, and the concept of moral and ethical duties within their roles as PTs and future teachers.
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