ERG SES G 01, Teacher Identity
Recent years have seen a lot of transformations in the Educational systems everywhere. In the Higher Education sector, it has not been different. Higher Education is undergoing significant changes, mostly related to the neoliberal logic and its effects in the universities. The demands for mass higher education and the imperative of employability, for example, impose new requirements to higher education, which effects have been widely discussed.
Within the global knowledge economy, universities are implicated in and influenced by globalization (Dale & Robertson, 2009). New challenges are imposed to the university considering market trends and needs. Gibbons et al. (1997) argue that knowledge production has changed and now takes into account the economic relevance, utility and applicability of knowledge. In a consumer-driven world (Dale, 2007), higher education focuses on economy and efficiency (Becher & Trowler, 2011). Framed by what is being called academic capitalism (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004), universities become more utilitarian and specifically vocational (Wheelahan, 2014).
The university new requirements impose changes on academic work (Clegg, 2008). Investigation regarding the academic identities highlights that neoliberal effects bring uncertainties to academic work, changing the notions of academic autonomy, freedom and purpose (Harris, 2005). Teachers’ work becomes associated with a competitive logic (Whitchurch, 2008) emphasizing performance and short term production (Beck & Young, 2008). In the pedagogical area, new challenges focus on entrepreneurship and competencies relevant to industry (Robertson, 2010). Bureaucratic tasks are imposed to teachers (Musselin, 2007), removing time from activities such as research and teaching (Guzmán-Valenzuela & Barnett, 2013). Studies show the need to reconnect research and teaching and to improve the relation between teachers and students, as the work intensification emerges as the scenario for higher education teaching.
This investigation focuses on the effects that changes in Higher Education systems may impose to the academic work. Considering that academic identity is changing in this context of continuing alterations (Barnett & Di Napoli, 2008), the main objective of the present study is to create a clearer picture of Academic Identities in the current scenario. The study aims to discuss about the (re)construction of the academic identity, as some effects of Higher Education changes led University Professors to (re)adapt their work, tasks, profession and Identity. Teachers have to reconstruct their identity by reflecting, trying to surpass the obstacles and reinventing themselves (Dubar, 2006).
Theoretically, to enable more in-depth discussion about the academic identity, it is necessary to debate on the conception of Identity. The study recognizes that identity is not a product, nor something fixed or permanent. It is developed on the basis of the subject-society dichotomy in a dynamic process (Berger & Luckmann, 2014). It is a process of interaction with others, but also with teachers’ work context. The professional identity involves a social identity with specialized knowledge (Dubar, 1997), acquired, for example, in the initial training. Specifically, the study considers the academic identity as an ecological system (Lopes, 2008), constructed and reconstructed concerning multiple aspects (Bolívar, 2006), such as the relationship of the teacher with the context, university, scientific area, colleagues, department (Henkel, 2008).
Methodically, the investigation focuses on professors’ trajectories, in order to promote a reflection about the contemporary higher education teaching. Listening to academics’ voices may represent an opportunity to understand the meaning teachers give to higher education teaching and to identify some expectations regarding the contemporary and the future university.
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