The development of academics’ teacher identity

The development of academic teachers is an important topic in ensuring educational quality in Higher Education. Two years ago, two researchers published a study into the development of academics’ teacher identities. The studied the development of a number of teachers over five to six years through data acquired in connection with a University Teacher Development Programme. The knowledge they collected about this particular group of academics provides insight into how academics’ teacher identities develop in a research-intensive environment when supported through a sustained development programme. The insights into how academics construe themselves as teachers may be used to inform the extent, design, and goals of instructional development programmes.

In this case study, the development of teacher identity is explored through academics’ self-image and self-efficacy as teachers, motivation to teach and develop as a teacher, and task perception. The authors investigated the following research question: How is teacher identity constituted among graduates of university teacher development programmes and what role does reflection play in university teacher identity development?

The results of this study indicate that teacher identity develops through dynamic interaction between a reflection of teaching practice and a deepening knowledge of theoretical pedagogical constructs. The willingness to reflect is crucial for the development as a university teacher.

Recently, a group of Dutch educational researchers published a new study on academic identity. They focus on  on social identity, which they define as that part of an individual’s self-concept derived from identity descriptions (who are we?) and identity evaluations (how good are we?) within social groups, related to one’s appreciation of these memberships. They understand academic identity as a specific social identity. To study ‘academic identity’, they include affect, cognition (values, goals, beliefs), abilities (knowledge and skills) and stereotypic behaviour. In the interactions between academics’ personal affinities, and context-bound forces in higher education.

Currently, identity is not viewed as a fixed and stable entity but a fluid one that shifts with time and context. Academic identities are formed related to many ‘areas in academics’ working lives’, such as career, profession, discipline and institution. In this study the authors  purposefully view opposing dimensions of the concept of identity as viable – unitary and multiple, continuous and discontinuous, and personal and social.

More information
Nevgi, A. & Löfström, E. (2015). The development of academics’ teacher identity…
Monica A. van Winkel, Roeland M. van der Rijst, Rob F. Poell & Jan H. van