02 SES 13 B, Learning VI: Identity
The concept of professional identity involves professional suitability, training, professional choice, professional image, professional plan, career awareness and motivation. Students of IT as future professionals have their self-conception which depends on the level of professional identity the students have achieved: diffuse identity, self-determination without debate, moratorium and the identity achieved. Each level reflects the identity of a certain combination of investigation and resolution of the undertaking. However, professional identity is not only an objectively perceived phenomenon; every subjective perception leads to one’s own career in the context of human evolution, social life, economic conditions, learning experience. Professional identity, which has been understood as professional roles, is one of the most important factors of career success and satisfaction. It is based on personal characteristics, values and experience.
The profession of IT is specific, because they do not work with people, they work with technologies. Therefore, the students of IT must not have the inclination to work with people. They are responsible for technologies and, therefore, career decisions of students in IT must be self-directed and adequate. Thus, the higher education professionals providing career guidance, mentors and teachers should recognize whether these programs are relevant to young people at an early stage of the professional identity. Therefore, this article addresses the following research questions: what career decisions were taken when choosing studies in IT? How and what appropriate level of professional identity was reached during the period of studies at university?
Career success in the 21st century is related to human performance, satisfaction and self-realization (Rodrigues et al., 2013). The formation of professional identity is a professional inquiry into the alternatives to the undertaking of commitments, the selected alternative and the revision of occupational alternatives (Porfeli, 2012). A commitment to a particular profession provides career stability in this dynamic world of work. A strong professional identity is a professional character which is a necessity in the field of competitiveness.
The Career Anchors theory by Schein (1990) reveals career anchors as priorities that are shaped by particular human abilities, interests and values, leading to career decisions and acting as the main stimulus of career path. The anchor of technical/functional competence describes person, who likes being good at something and will work to become a guru or expert. They like to be challenged and then use their skills to meet the challenge, doing the job properly and better than almost anyone else.
Professional identity has been analysed in many aspects. Kroger and Marcia (2011) revealed the formation of professional identity in the context of human evolution; Wiles (2013) investigated the construction of professional identity patterns. Urbanavičiūtė et al. (2014) investigated the school-age youngsters’ professional identity related with adaptation of their careers.
There are many researchers who identified the specific characteristics of professional identity formation. Rimkienė and Žydžiūnaitė (2013) investigated the nursing students’ professional identity. Eidukevičiūtė & Večkienė (2015) analysed the social worker’s professional identity. The research on the formation of professional identity, design, reconstruction and definition shows the importance of this research subject in the world and in the context of career development. This article addresses the following research questions: what are the career decisions that were taken when choosing the studies in IT? How and what appropriate level of professional identity was reached during the period of university studies? This research focusses on the professional identity level of IT students in the context of career decisions. The research aims to reveal the students’ professional identity of IT study program in the context of career decisions.
Narrative as a research strategy was chosen for the purposes of empirical research. It allows to disclose students’ biographical facts. They were reflecting on their career decisions and their experience of the real world. Narrative as a method can maintain flexibility, complexity and freedom of expression, the experiences of an individual. Narrative is suitable for the analysis of life stories. A narrative inquiry explores life experience using the language of ‘story’. The narrative researcher uses the themes or categories to restore the field of texts. On the basis of students’ stories the level of students’ professional level could be determined. In this research, the theoretical analysis presents the levels of professional identity by Marcia et al. (1993). A narrative story can reveal the unknown phenomenon. In this case, this method is used to reveal the identity of students in the context of vocational career decisions. Sample. The 1st year students of IT were selected as subjects for this research keeping in mind that these students will not graduate shortly and they can tend to change the study programme. The students were not in the same academic groups which means that they do not share the same study conditions; 150 selfreflections were obtained. Methods. Data collection. The data collection method is the narrative survey. Narrative is a method where the researcher recreates the texts to facilitate the reader’s experience of lives or events. Students have prepared their self-reflections. They had to analyse the career decisions in the context of their professional development and life events, while choosing the studies in IT. The selfreflection texts had a general topic. The students were writing their personal stories on the topic 'My career'. Special questions were also given. Data analysis. The research data were analysed according to the four levels of professional identity. The data analysis was made using the method of content analysis. This method was chosen as it allows to decode the meanings behind the content and make interpretations of the narrative content. There are the provisions of the human experience, context, emotion reflected in the texts and in the context, in this case, the context of career decisions.
The concept of professional identity involves professional suitability, training, professional choice, professional image, professional plan, career awareness and motivation. Students of IT as future professionals have their self-conception which depends on the level of professional identity the students have achieved: diffuse identity, self-determination without debate, moratorium and the identity achieved. The results of qualitative research on students' professional identity, in the context of career decisions, revealed that the young person's predisposition and interest in the area of IT can occur already at an early age. But usually the interest in this particular IT is recognized in last school years. Students who achieved professional identity have a desire to create new technologies, IT innovations. The professional identity in different stages of development is characterized differently. Diffuse level means that students are not mature enough to make adequate career decisions. Sometimes students make career choices in relation to psychological discomfort. The level of choice without debate includes the specific decision compensating factors (a logically constructed career plan, 'inherited' the career, etc.), a strong external influence on career and spontaneous decision. Moratorium level is characterized by an abundance of career opportunities in the hobbies related with IT activities. The achieved professional identity level describes how students are choosing career based on their own decisions, strong vocation, desire to make their hobby work for them and is recognized from early years, and IT skills. The IT professional identity formation is influenced by internal and external factors. The internal factors mean personal qualities, interests, values, career vision and other factors. The external factors are: family point of view, authority of the former teachers, social media influencers and sucssess stories of IT professionals.
Canrinus, E. T., Helms-Lorenz, M., Beijaard, D., Buitink, J., & Hofman, A. (2012). Self-efficacy, job satisfaction, motivation and commitment: exploring the relationships between indicators of teachers’ professional identity. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 27, (1), 115-132. Eidimtas, A., & Jucevičienė, P. (2014). Factors Influencing School-Leavers’ Decision to enroll in Higher Education. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences Journal, 116, 3983–3988. Fitzmaurice, M. (2013). Constructing professional identity as a new academic. Studies in Higher Education, 38, (4), 613-622. Guerrero, A. L. (2011). Narrative as resource for the display of self and identity: The narrative construction of an oppositional identity. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 13, (2), 88-99. Ibarra, H., & Barbulescu, R. (2010). Identity as narrative: Prevalence, effectiveness, and consequences of narrative identity work in macro work role transitions. Academy of Management Review, 35, (1), 135-154. Kroger, J., & Marcia, J. E. (2011). The identity statuses: Origins, meanings, and interpretations. In Handbook of Identity Theory and Research. (pp. 31-53). NY: Springer. Marcia, J. E., Waterman, A. S., Matteson, D. R., Archer, S. L, & Orlofsky, J. L. (Eds.). (1993). Ego Identity: A Handbook for Psychosocial Research. NY: Springer. O’Connor, K. E. (2008). ‘You choose to care’: Teachers, emotions and professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24 (1), 117-126. Porfeli, E. J. (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Scale-USA Form: Psychometric properties and relation to vocational identity. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, (3), 748-753. Rimkienė, R., & Žydžiūnaitė, V. (2013). Professional identity statuses of first-year college students in general practice nursing programmes: the case of Lithuania. Balkan Military Medical Review, 16, (2), 79-91. Rodrigues, R., Guest, D., & Budjanovcanin, A. (2013). From anchors to orientations: towards a contemporary theory of career preferences. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83, (2), 142-152. Schein, E. (1990). Career Anchors: Instrument: Discovering Your Real Values. London: Prentice Hall. Super, D. E., & Šverko, B. E. (1995). Life Roles, Values, and Careers: International Findings of the Work Importance Study. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Wiles, F. (2013). ‘Not easily put into a box’: constructing professional identity. Social Work Education, 32, (7), 854-866. Wilkins, C., Busher, H., Kakos, M., Mohamed, C., & Smith, J. (2012). Crossing borders: new teachers co-constructing professional identity in performative times. Professional development in education, 38, (1), 65-77. Williams, J. (2010). Constructing a new professional identity: Career change into teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(3), 639-647.
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