Shifting the technology context : career-change entrants’ transition into teaching

Kember, Deborah Anne (2011) Shifting the technology context : career-change entrants’ transition into teaching. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Becoming a teacher in technology-rich classrooms is a complex and challenging transition for career-change entrants. Those with generic or specialist Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expertise bring a mindset about purposeful uses of ICT that enrich student learning and school communities. The transition process from a non-education environment is both enhanced and constrained by shifting the technology context of generic or specialist ICT expertise, developed through a former career as well as general life experience. In developing an understanding of the complexity of classrooms and creating a learner centred way of working, perceptions about learners and learning evolve and shift. Shifts in thinking about how ICT expertise supports learners and enhances learning preceded shifts in perceptions about being a teacher, working with colleagues, and functioning in schools that have varying degrees of intensity and impact on evolving professional identities. Current teacher education and school induction programs are seen to be falling short of meeting the needs of career-change entrants and, as a flow on, the students they nurture. Research (see, for example, Tigchelaar, Brouwer, & Korthagen, 2008; Williams & Forgasz, 2009) highlights the value of generic and specialist expertise career-change teachers bring to the profession and draws attention to the challenges such expertise begets (Anthony & Ord, 2008; Priyadharshini & Robinson-Pant, 2003). As such, the study described in this thesis investigated perceptions of career-change entrants, who have generic (Mishra & Koehler, 2006) or specialist expertise, that is, ICT qualifications and work experience in the use of ICT. The career-change entrants‘ perceptions were sought as they shifted the technology context and transitioned into teaching in technology-rich classrooms. The research involved an interpretive analysis of qualitative data and quantitative data. The study used the explanatory case study (Yin, 1994) methodology enriched through grounded theory processes (Strauss & Corbin, 1998), to develop a theory about professional identity transition from the perceptions of the participants in the study. The study provided insights into the expertise and experiences of career change entrants, particularly in relation to how professional identities that include generic and specialist ICT knowledge and expertise were reconfigured while transitioning into the teaching profession. This thesis presents the Professional Identity Transition Theory that encapsulates perceptions about teaching in technology-rich classrooms amongst a selection of the increasing number of career-change entrants. The theory, grounded in the data, (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) proposes that career-change entrants experience transition phases of varying intensity that impact on professional identity, retention and development as a teacher. These phases are linked to a shift in perceptions rather than time as a teacher. Generic and specialist expertise in the use of ICT is a weight of the past and an asset that makes the transition process more challenging for career-change entrants. The study showed that career-change entrants used their experiences and perceptions to develop a way of working in a school community. Their way of working initially had an adaptive orientation focussed on immediate needs as their teaching practice developed. Following a shift of thinking, more generative ways of working focussed on the future emerged to enable continual enhancement and development of practice. Sustaining such learning is a personal, school and systemic challenge for the teaching profession.

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ID Code: 40849
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Lloyd, Margaret & Chandra, Vinesh
Keywords: career change, career-change entrant, ICT, professional development, professional identity, professional learning, quality teaching, teachers, transition
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 21 Mar 2011 05:41
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 20:01

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