First Advisor

Dot McElhone

Term of Graduation

Spring 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction





Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 287 pages)


High school teachers' identities and agency are often affected by systems that require their compliance if the teachers are to maintain employment. Sometimes when teachers perform an expected task, they experience identity friction, a term created to explain the residual effect of performing an institutional obligation that is misaligned with a teacher's identity and agency. Considering the potential impact of grades on students' academic opportunities and perceptions of themselves, one teacher obligation that creates identity friction is assigning student grades. And yet, scant research has been done on the impact identity friction -- resulting from working within the traditional grading system's confines in U.S. high schools -- has on teachers. In this study, the effects of assigning grades on teacher identity and agency within the context of the traditional grading system are explored. The concepts of identity and agency, with particular attention to figured worlds and identities, positional identities, dialogism, narratives, and discourse are key theoretical constructs. The history of traditional grading systems is highlighted to illuminate the "hidden" power system behind grades. The principles of narrative inquiry and critical discourse are frameworks for the analysis of this interview study of how teachers experience identity friction. Teachers working within the confines of a traditional grading system often felt that their values and beliefs were not able to be fully actualized because of their obligation to grade students. Even with the negative impact of identity friction, teachers also performed acts of resistance against traditional grading structures.


© 2022 Sarah Emily Dutton-Breen

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