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Voice, and Rejoice: Exploring the Role of Appreciative Inquiry on Pre-service Teacher Wellbeing

Merchant, Fareen Angel
A Master of Arts thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Fareen Angel Merchant entitled, “Voice, and Rejoice: Exploring the Role of Appreciative Inquiry on Pre-service Teacher Wellbeing”, submitted in April 2022. Thesis advisor is Dr. Tammy Gregersen. Soft copy is available (Thesis, Completion Certificate, Approval Signatures, and AUS Archives Consent Form).
In the practice of teacher education, perhaps the most common way to address an issue is “this is what’s wrong, let’s fix it.” Recent trends in teacher wellbeing, however, provide us with a novel way of problem solving, where we adopt the attitude of “this is what’s going well, how can we make it better?” This paper explores this alternative method by discussing Appreciative Inquiry (AI): a positive, strengths-based approach that helps identify and capitalize on the strengths in any given situation. The AI approach can be used for the development and enhancement of teachers in all stages of their career. This study centers on the use of AI and its effect on the wellbeing of pre-service teachers. This population is especially susceptible to particular stressors and strains as they transition from the role of student to that of teacher. To overcome this, the study implemented the AI method and grouped together the use of signature strengths and peer mentoring. The participants consisted of 15 master’s degree candidates enrolled in a teaching methods course at the American University of Sharjah (UAE). These students responded to the values in action (VIA) signature strengths survey and were paired up with those who had a similar set of strengths. The peers were asked to observe each other teach and provide strengths- based feedback following AI guidelines. The data were coded thematically to reveal the effects of the approach on the participants’ wellbeing. Results suggest that AI paired with awareness of signature strengths, helped the participants become more empowered, agentic, and as a result, joyful. This study offers insight into the AI method and demonstrates an innovative approach to help enhance pre-service teacher wellbeing.
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