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Name of the tool

Structured interview and feedback about professional identity of student teacher

Links to the keystones
attitudes, awareness, knowledge

Aim of tool/ Brief overall description
Aim of tool
To encourage the use of reflection and self-assessment of students.
The objectives are:

  • To give to students the opportunity to reflect on their understanding of the teaching profession in the modern world, including understanding of and managing on multicultural learning environment.
  • To give feedback to students about their reflection in order to support their understanding about teacher profession in multicultural context.
  • To strengthen student teachers` and teachers` professional self-confidence and self-awareness and hence to reinforce their personal attitudes to their own cultural identity and to professional responsibilities, including responsibility of creating supportive intercultural learning environment for every pupil.

Brief overall description
The role of the teacher alters with changes in society. In Estonia the person once perceived as the custodian of a single sided culture and responsible for distributing book knowledge has become an independent professional who is expected to teach pupils in a multicultural democracy in a multicultural learning environment and to support individual personal growth and development of all pupils with different backgrounds.
Also the Standard of Professional Competence of Estonia includes the inculcation of humanistic and democratic values (such as the need for civil society, respect for the individual, tolerance), the management of cultural diversity and the management of multiple personal identities (national, local, professional).
The issue of identity (also professional identity) as a paramount concern has, generally, emerged in Estonia due to increase in personal liberty and civil rights associated with “the return to the west” and the dissolution of the old network.
Our student teachers` attitude to issue of multi- or intercultural learning environment is a bit different – because of our political history – as in modern western societies. There is rather strong confrontation between two nationalities, Estonians and Russians (or Russian speaking population) in one hand, but in other hand almost total tolerance towards all the other nationalities or cultures in Estonia. Therefore we cannot concentrate in teacher training to single tools or methods or “tricks” for preparing future teachers for teaching in intercultural classroom, but we have to reinforce students` own personal and professional identity to broaden and intensify thereby also their own cultural identity.   
Only teachers with strong and positive professional self-esteem and self-awareness can support and create supportive and positive learning environment for every child in spite of their cultural, social, religion etc. background.

Main methods

Structured interview,
Structured feedback



Description of the process and the possible stepping stones

1. Students in their first year of studies for the MA Teacher Education degree should complete the questionnaire in tandem with the interviewers.
2. Assessment of the student’s answers
The researchers assess the student’s responses using (once again) the specifications of the National Teacher's Standard of Professional Competence and the evaluation criteria for pedagogical practice of the certain state. The purpose of assessment is to provide students with the opportunity to evaluate their potential for the job as well as to help them become aware of different roles. Readiness should be evaluated on a 10-point scale (1 – complete lack of readiness, 10 – completely ready).
3. Feedback to the students and observation of feedback
Feedback should be conducted a week after the questionnaire is completed. There has to be two interviewers and one interviewee together at one time. One interviewer comment on the answers the student had given and answers questions whilst the second interviewer observes the interview and makes a record of the process. Behavior should be observed in order to provide additional feedback about the student’s interpersonal skills.

Reflection and evaluation
In respect of students it is revealed that: they assessed the feedback as very informative and useful. The questionnaire provides opportunities for grounding one’s opinions and ideas.
Some examples:
“The idea of myself as a teacher feels strange and odd but not unacceptable. Talking about myself as a future teacher helps me to adjust to the idea”.
“The interview offered me more than I expected – later on I have found myself thinking about the questions. Again and again you remember something you had never thought of before”.
“The questions were interesting and encouraged me to reflect on them”.
The interview project is in absolute conformity with the aims of the teacher-training course in Tallinn University. It helps to improve the quality of communication with students, provides feedback on the content of subjects and supports the development of the teacher’s role image. Some elements of the process described have also been used in the entrance exam to teacher training courses in Tallinn University. We consider the implementation of the discussed method to be appropriate to career counseling for those students who need support in deciding whether to continue the MA studies in teacher training or in some other specialty.
Interviewers themselves must have positive attitude and awareness towards cultural differences and intercultural learning environment in general.


Structured interview



Room, what is comfort and big enough for privacy of two different interviewers and which is suitable and supportive for group work

Channels for informing students about possibilities of interview


Two qualified interviewers


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Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C., Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teacher`s professional identity. – Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 107–128.

Bennet, C. 2006. Comprehensive Multicultural Education: Theory and practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

DeBenoist, A. (2004). On identity. – Telos, 128, 9–64.

Furlong, J., Barton, L., Whiting, C., Whitty, G. (2000). Teacher Education in Transition. Re-forming professionalism? Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Goodson, L. (1997). „Trendy theory“ and teacher professionalism. – Cambridge Journal of Education, 27(1), 7–16.

Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind. London: McGraw-Hill.

Intercultural Learning. T-KIT No 4. (2000).

Niemi, H (Edit.). 1999. Moving Horizons in Education: International Transformations and Challenges of Democracy. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press.

Robson, J. (2006). Teacher Professionalism in Further and Higher Education. Challange to culture and practice. London and New York: Routledge.

Ruus, V.-R. (2005). Õpetaja postitsioonivalikud ja -lahingud (Teachers`s Choises and Conflicts). – Haridus (Education), 1, 14–18.

Tuomi, M. T. 2001. Human Dignity in the Learing Environment: Testing a Sociological Paradigm for a Diversity-Positive Milieu with School Startes. Jyväskylä: University Printing House.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2005). Ideoloogia. Multidistsiplinaarne käsitlus (Ideology. Multidisciplinary Approach). Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastu (Tartu University Press).


Inge Timoštšuk
Mai Normak