22 SES 08 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Changes in the importance of learning and research at university, growth of the number and heterogeneity of students, universities changing as organizations, and emerging policies of higher education and research have made positioning oneself as an academic challenging, complicated, ethical and contested issue all over the world (Barnett & Napoli 2007; McInnis, 2000; Clegg, 2008). Academic’s identity is an issue also in Estonia, where due to becoming a member of the European Union and democratization of education extensive reforms in higher education have taken place. Identity affects self-confidence, choices, aspirations, development and action. Academic’s identity is an issue for academics, students, managers and society at large, as it affects important processes in university – knowledge creating and student’s learning, professional development of academic’s and development of university and society. Identity is understood as a process of positioning oneself as a part of group or as an individual through different meaning positions and negotiating it with significant others. Identity enables to make sense of the situation and to lower anxiety and achieve confidence. Identity involves different positioning identifications (personal experiences, relationships, groups, activities, narratives) (Clegg 2008:329). Academics are understood as heterogenic group of scholars and researchers involved in teaching at university (Keskinen, Lepistö & Keskinen, 2005). There are not enough qualitative research studies on academics’ identities and their lives compared to teachers (Keskinen, Lepistö & Keskinen, 2005). We know little about academics’ experiences, identities and how they make sense of their lives (Goodson & Adair, 2006), although importance of their work is growing in society. Through research it is possible to sense the situation, to understand what is taken for granted, find other frameworks to make sense of an academic and supporting their professional development and development of the institution. The study was based on research question: how academics position their identity in one university context. The aim of the paper is to present three distinctive was to position oneself as an academic.
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