Globalisation and the rapid advance of technology have created a number of challenges for education. In this period of flux, the teaching profession is becoming increasingly challenging and more and more teachers leave early the profession as they have to cope with stress and burnout (Mansfield, Beltman, Broadley, & Weatherby-Fell, 2016). Recent research studies have focused on teacher identity development and on supporting teachers conduct inquiry on their own teaching practice as a way to address these problems. Nevertheless, although literature on topics related to engaging teachers with research and on teacher identity development is growing, studies on the topic of teacher identity development as inquirer is scarce (Taylor, 2017). Hence, it is rarely investigated how the practice of engaging teachers with research influences their teacher inquirer identity or, vice-versa, how the construction of the teacher inquirer identity supports teachers in conducting research on their own teaching practices. As a result, little is known about how teachers construct identities as inquirers or what a teacher inquirer identity entails.
This study adopts a dialogical approach (Hermans, Kempen, & van Loon, 1992) to identity and builds on theoretical models related to conducting research in educational settings in order to identify and describe the most important elements related to the teacher inquirer identity and construct a model of the teacher inquirer identity.
Based on models from the area of conducting research in educational settings, seven I-positions related to teacher inquirer identity have been identified: teacher as problem finder, teacher as acquiring a better understanding of the problem, teacher as designer of an intervention, teacher as implementer of the intervention, teacher as evaluator, teacher as reflector, and teacher as writer.
Additionally, being aware that it is impossible to describe teacher inquirer identity without considering other I-positions that might come into play, especially those that might have significant interactions with the teacher inquirer I-positions, such as the teacher identity. We posit that besides teacher identity, six different repertoires of I-positions communicate directly with the teacher inquirer identity: positions related to values, positions related to skills, positions related to interests, positions related to the educational institution, positions related to the class that currently teaches, and positions related to the postgraduate programme.