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Teacher trainees’ information sharing activities and identity positioning on Facebook

Fredrik Hanell (Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




The purpose of this paper is to extend the knowledge of how identity is connected to information sharing activities in social media during pre-school teacher training.


An ethnographic study is performed where 249 students at a Swedish pre-school teacher-training programme are followed through participant observations from November 2013 to January 2014, and from September 2014 to January 2015. The material produced includes 230 conversations from a Facebook Group used by 210 students and several teachers, field notes and transcribed interviews with nine students. Comparative analysis is used to analyse the Facebook conversations to identify ways of positioning identity and engaging in information sharing activities. Interviews with students are analysed to contextualise and validate the findings from the online interactions.


Three identity positions are identified: discussion-oriented learner, goal-oriented learner and customer-oriented learner. The way a student commits to others, to ideas and to a career choice affects their identity positions and information sharing activities. Results suggest that information sharing with social media should be understood as a powerful device for identity development in pre-school teacher training.

Research limitations/implications

This study is designed to provide detailed accounts with high validity on the expense of a high degree of representativeness.


No previous library and information science-studies have been presented that explore the relationship between the identity of learners and the information sharing activities in which they engage, in the context of social media or in relation to teacher training.



The author would like to thank the participants of the study and acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


Hanell, F. (2017), "Teacher trainees’ information sharing activities and identity positioning on Facebook", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 2, pp. 244-262.



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