Social processes in the cognitive development of student teachers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Contemporary educational research suggests that learning to teach has an important affective dimension associated with developing relationships and the formation of a teaching identity. Michalinos Zemblyas (2005, 2018), a leading proponent for the study of the role of the emotions in education, has noted that while affect in professional learning may be emerging as a theme in the literature, too little has been done to incorporate affective concerns in a systematic way in teacher education. An indication of how convincing this view has become is denoted by the proliferation of professional standards in teaching. Although some standards (e.g. GTCS, 2021) do allow for notions of a more ‘holistic’ or contextually situated learning, this tends to be expressed somewhat imprecisely in the appeal to values, and personal commitment, more often outweighed in practice by cognitively oriented competences, such as codified knowledge of the curriculum and classroom skills – a process of standardising (Zemblyas, 2021) learning and teaching into taxonomies of experience, outcome, and public performance measurement. Rather narrow definitions of cognitive development continue to shape teacher professional learning, and arguments for more dynamic models of learning tend not to be substantiated with much empirical evidence. Building on qualitative interviews and observations with 26 student teachers, the aim of this study is to reveal, in more specific data, the contingent web of socio-professional interaction that shapes cognitive development in teaching. The methodological paradigm of the research design is first and foremost naturalistic, in that it depends on human interpretations of everyday experiences in teaching. Data were analysed inductively for themes (Braun and Clarke, 2006), with findings suggesting that beginners’ identities evolve as part of a co-creative learning process, rather than as passive subjectivities of a deterministic professionalism. The argument is that the emotional and relational must not become casualties of the dimidiating effects of policy-driven auditing.

Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) (2021). Standards for provisional registration. Retrieved 29 April 2022 from

Zemblyas, M. (2005) Beyond teacher cognition and teacher beliefs: the value of the ethnography of emotions in teaching. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18(4), 465-487.

Zembylas, M. (2018) Professional standards for teachers and school leaders: Interrogating the entanglement of affect and biopower in standardizing processes. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 3(3), 142-156
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2022
EventScottish Education Research Association Annual Conference 2022: Reconnecting educational research, policy, and practice - University of the West of Scotland , Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Nov 202225 Nov 2022


ConferenceScottish Education Research Association Annual Conference 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • affect
  • cognition
  • teaching
  • Identity


Dive into the research topics of 'Social processes in the cognitive development of student teachers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this