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Choosing our identity: Why Irish higher education professionals undertake doctoral research by Diana Mitchell


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Diana Mitchell discusses professional librarians identity by taking us through the concept of identity and how its applies to academic librarians and their teaching role.

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Choosing our identity: Why Irish higher education professionals undertake doctoral research by Diana Mitchell

  1. 1. Choosing our identities Why Irish higher education professionals undertake doctoral research
  2. 2. … a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their mind.(William James, 1890)
  3. 3. People by nature lead storied lives and tell stories of those lives, whereas narrative researchers describe such lives, collect and tell stories of them, and write narratives of experience’ (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p. 2)
  4. 4. Narrative Inquiry A knowledge of the particular, the unique  Study into and understanding of experience Charts identity across human life span Life Stories social, cultural & historical Transactional not passive – transformed Stories with truth
  5. 5. ‘biography is, and always will be, the crucial factor affecting perceptions and experiences. What has happened to us in the past affects the things that happen to us in the present’  (Wellington and Sikes, 2007)
  6. 6. 1. Previous educational experiences 2. Doctoral motivations 3. Relationships 4. Support networks 5. After the Doctorate… 6. Identity Main Themes
  7. 7. Associated Motivation sub-themes Credibility Dropout of college Peer pressure Professional development Personal ambition / research interest
  8. 8. Associated Identity sub-themes Being a professional Labelling Identity within HEIs Being a female Doctoral identity
  9. 9. Identity issues for all HEPROs Multiple identities enacted Changing identities – self-definition Contrasting identities equals stress Space to express voice, re-negotiating Labels place value on roles
  10. 10. Identity Relationship between an individual and society re-negotiated ‘What it means to be who one is’ (Burke, 2003) ‘People’s source of meaning and experience’ (Castell, 1997)
  11. 11. 1. Self 2. Structure
  12. 12. Communitarian Concept Distinctive and embedded Identity influenced by specific contexts & traditions - family, culture, community Community - defining moral space for individuals to make sense of their world
  13. 13. Professional Identity  Professions can be important source of identity  Identity formation in education settings - workplaces  Argument that power institutionalised – hierarchies race, gender, class  Universities producing professionals and content of professional knowledge
  14. 14. Changing identities in HE…
  15. 15. Academic identity  communitarian concept present for formation academic identities  ‘scholarly community of which they are a part rather than the specific institution in which they work’ (Delanty, 2008)  ‘Core workforce’  Unique, bounded and protected space’ (Henkel, 2010)  Change causing crisis between self and collective identity – less cohesive  Redefining themselves, roles and boundaries, partnerships
  16. 16. Librarian Professional Identity  Spaces widened for HEPROs including librarians  Blurring boundaries  Exclusionary issues, binary perceptions  Some HEPROs have own professional affiliations  Widening participation - contribution to learning & teaching
  17. 17. The world of the teaching librarian is diverse, challenging and often contrary (McGuinness, 2011)