• Constructing professional identity: the role of postgraduate professional development in asserting the identity of the career practitioner

      Poultney, Val; Davies, David; Neary, Siobhan (University of DerbyInternational Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS), 2014-08-15)
      The professional identity of career practitioners in the UK has become increasingly challenged in recent decades due to the influence of government policy and the dominance of work-based qualifications. Privatisation, multi-professional working and workforce realignment have all contributed to a reshaping of the career guidance professional. This research examines the views of a group of practitioners all undertaking continuing professional development (CPD) in the form of a postgraduate award. The participants were all UK based practitioners working in a career related role; all were either currently on programme, had completed or stepped off with an interim award within a masters programme. The research explored practitioners’ views at a time of significant upheaval, of themselves as professionals, their professional identity and the extent to which postgraduate CPD contributed to this. The research utilised a case study approach employing document analysis, questionnaire, in-depth interviews and narrative biographies. These tools were specifically selected to enable sequential analysis of data allowing findings from each stage to be rigorously tested out by the next research tool. Applications from potential students were initially analysed helping to establish motivation for undertaking a programme of this type, an on-line survey explored practitioners views of themselves as professionals, motivation for postgraduate study and potential outcomes for themselves, their organisation and their profession. In-depth interviews and narrative biographies provided a voice allowing participants to explore their personal journey with their studies and how this engagement contributed to the establishment, maintenance or enhancement of their practitioner professional identity. Continuing professional development was classified as consisting of three types, operational, experiential and formal. Findings suggested participants predominantly valued formal CPD with operational being perceived as only meeting employer contractual compliance. Postgraduate level CPD contributed to professional identity through engagement with reflection, theory, policy and academic study. Ethics and client focus were central to the professional identity of the career practitioner. Postgraduate study was perceived to empower practitioners and to contribute to the professionalisation of the sector and give parity with other public sector professions. The research contributes to both the limited body of knowledge addressing professional identity within the career guidance context and discourse addressing professionalisation of new professions. It offers a shared professional perspective that can inform the evolving policy debate aiming to professionalise the career and allied workforces. The research offers a unique insight into a profession in transition and the voice of practitioners who have experienced successive waves of government policy, which has been often internalised as de-professionalisation.
    • The emerging professional: exploring student teachers’ developing conceptions of the relationship between theory and practice in learning to teach.

      Poultney, Val; Knight, Rupert (University of Derby, 2014-10-23)
      A shift of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) towards school-based training is underway in England, calling into question the place of a theoretical basis for teaching. Re-examining the relationship between educational theory and classroom practice is therefore particularly timely and links to long-standing discussions in the literature on what constitutes teachers’ professional knowledge, the specific tensions between theory and practice in education and the implications for the structure of ITE. The study is rooted in models of teacher knowledge, of theory and practice nexus and of student teacher development. Within this context, the research offers new insight, picking up where previous studies have left off, by charting over a period of time what happens to students’ initial preconceptions about theory and practice and investigating whether, how and why these change in the course of the subsequent journey to first employment. This is a longitudinal case study: five participants, representing a diverse range of profiles from a 2011-12 cohort, form the case group and data were collected before the course, through various stages of the programme and into first teaching posts through interviews, focus groups and documentary analysis. To contextualise the central case study, survey data from the wider Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) cohort were also gathered. The research finds these students to be far from naïve as they entered training but identified important shifts in the understanding and role of theory during the PGCE experience. Openness to theoretical perspectives is evident and far from being diminished by practical experience, this comes to assume a more prominent place as the course progresses. By exploring this journey, which culminates in a profile of the thinking of a newly qualified professional in the workplace, a contribution is made to current understanding of the development of knowledge for teaching that may help to inform future programme design. More specifically, the role of the university is reconsidered and suggestions are made for ways of working with students at the various stages of the process.
    • An investigation into formal and informal learning in outdoor adventure: a case study of a local authority adventure team

      Poultney, Val; Ritson, Linda (University of Derby, 2013-07)
      This thesis develops understanding in using outdoor adventure as a tool for learning for young people. It examines how adventure pedagogy may be applied in conjunction with classroom education to offer physical and visual means to enhance classroom theory. The core of the study was the examination of a local authority Adventure Team, identified by the Authority management as having strayed from its roots, although not perceived as ‘failing’. The researcher became insider-researcher to combine professional experience with research knowledge, envisaging this study as the pre-cursor to an action research team development project. The aims of the research were whether the Team was delivering the ‘learning’ mandated by its youth work location and whether it could strengthen its delivery. The study defines adventure, before exploring the underpinning concepts making up the elements of ‘The Adventure Team’ and its identity within the local authority. Literature advocates adventure as a powerful tool to develop social and emotional literacy, which dovetails into Government agendas on health and education. Although the study was undertaken prior to the current coalition Government, the principal agenda remains consistent with the previous regime. The Government at the time of the research promoted adventure as a means to help young people learn about the world in which they live, and the current Government has not rescinded this ambition. This work embodies learning as an interactive process whereby adventure can engage the individual on an agenda of personal and social awareness, as well as cognitive learning. Using case study as the research approach, data collection was achieved using interviews, participant observation and secondary data. The research found that the Team could achieve more by developing closer working relationships and by the Authority leadership being strengthened to offer greater direction and support. The framework of delivery was centralising the Team such that it had become isolated, with little governance and without partnerships to make the programmes as powerful as they could be. The conclusion is that the Team could fortify its delivery through alliances to provide visual and physical means to reinforce and support traditional learning, which enhances understanding. Informal learning helps young people to understand how they learn and how they can apply learning, which augments motivation and creates ownership of the learning. The research is a forerunner to at least two future research studies. Firstly an examination of the legacy of the ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ Manifesto (2006) and secondly, an exploration of the influence of the coalition Government’s assumption of power on multi-agency partnerships, early intervention and targeted youth support, as was envisaged under the previous regime as the ‘Every Child Matters’ (2003) agenda. In addition to this, a book exploring how adventure can be used to address formal and informal learning as an ‘off the shelf’ resource to present activities and potential outcomes has enormous potential in the sustained delivery of outdoor learning as a valuable learning tool.