Identities of lecturers in college and the implications of continuous professional development

3.6 Tensions, extensions, and new formulations in cultural-historical activity research
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
4:15 PM, Thursday 31 Aug 2017 (25 minutes)
The research reported in this paper aimed to develop the understanding of the relationship between identity, pedagogy and the continuous professional development (CPD) of lecturers in the further education sector. My earlier research had indicated that there was a contradiction between the object of the executive team of Emsworth College and that of the lecturers working in the college (Jones, 2016). Here, I intended to explore the relationship between identity, pedagogy and CPD in Emsworth College, and how identity and pedagogy could influence, and develop, during episodes of CPD chosen to reflect the identity and pedagogy of the participants. The fragmentation of practice and identities, which are a defining feature of the sector, presented challenges. How best to model both the remoteness of the executive team in relation to the departmental system's participants act in, and the CPD actions taken to reflect and develop identities, was an obstacle. The executive team reproduces the neo-liberal, marketised values of the sector which constrain both at a departmental and an individual level. The expression of this relationship I felt was facilitated by the use of Bernstein’s theory of classification because it allowed me to express the contradiction between the uniformity expected of the executive and the diversity that exists within the organisation. By using Bernstein’s theory, alongside the socio-cultural lens, I was able to explore the dominance of the college system with its confined and confining nature. In this complex relationship, it was found that the college activity system held contradictory concepts of learning and conflicting objects and rules to the activity systems of the participants. The college activity system dominated, conflicted with, and constrained the activity systems of the participants, and thus the participants’ actualisation of their developed identity and pedagogy. This constraint appeared to be communicated by restricting lecturer agency using strongly framed models of development that focused on college priorities. Lecturers were also constrained by the organisation failing to recognise their identities and pedagogies either prior to, or following, the CPD episodes of the intervention. By including Bernstein’s theory, I was able to offer a more nuanced representation of the dialectic tension between my participants and the college that constrained them. Ultimately this allowed me to offer practical considerations of how CPD could develop within this environment, by considering who could lead development within the organisation and steps the organisation could take to resolve the contradictions identified.
Bedford College