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  • 2015springbettphd

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Enacting professional identity: an exploration of teacher educators’ entanglement with educational technologies in FE

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Octavia Springbett
Publication date2015
Number of pages365
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This study focuses on the technology practices of teacher educators in further education (FE) colleges as a site for the negotiation of professional identity. As the culture of performativity and accountability has grown across the English education system, FE has become progressively standardised, centrally mandated and regulated. This has led to debates about teacher professional autonomy and the underlying values of an education system ostensibly oriented towards neoliberalist consumer markets. Policymakers present both the professionalisation of the FE workforce and the effective use of technology as crucial to achieving educational objectives. However, amid substantial interventions into FE teacher education and practice, decisions about educational technology use are seemingly entrusted to teaching professionals.

Drawing on the analytical resources of sociocultural and sociomaterial theory, this qualitative case study of three teacher education teams explores how teacher educators negotiate professional identity within the figured worlds of FE. Although underrepresented in research, the literature indicates that this group has an important role in achieving government objectives for improved learner outcomes. This study’s findings suggest that teacher educators identify with the key discourses of their context and professional role to different degrees, and seek to reconcile competing versions of professionalism. Teacher educator work is replete with technology and the appearance of professional choice in many technology practices is illusory. This is found to affect perceptions of technology as integral to teacher educator expertise and the extent to which technology is used in the politically desired ways.

Adding to the growing body of research on teacher educator professionalism and higher education (HE) in FE contexts, this thesis foregrounds the influence of the FE culture and conditions of employment on the (re)formation of teacher educator professional identity and demonstrates the potential of technology practices as an access point for further identity research.