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Teacher educators' perceptions of their profession in relation to the digitalization of society
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (LINA)
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1391-3346
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession, Utbildningsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Göteborgs universitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5248-771X
2019 (English)In: Journal of Praxis in Higher Education, no 1, p. 87-110Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study takes an exploratory approach to investigating Swedish teacher educators' perceptions regarding their profession in relation to the digitalization of society and education, including higher education. Eighteen semi-structured interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings show that the teache reducators perceive digitalization on a scale that ranges from simply using tools to being part of a technology-initiated revolution of educational institutions and society. From this range of digital developments emanate individual, group, and organizational requirements/demands, needs, and consequences for being, that is, personal experiences of how digitalization affects the work, and acting, that is, doing something in response to the demands of using and teaching with digital technology. The teacher educator is situated primarily in being with the requirements for working professionally and acting as a teacher, which creates tensions and challenges for the individual and the professional self. Teacher educators require support to strengthen their professional identity, to facilitate activities for professional development, and to stimulate reflective practice. A further difficulty is the lack of relevant policies and strategies. This study highlights the complex challenge of teaching and learning simultaneously in a profession that implicates autonomy and responsibility of its practitioners. This creates limitations for the teacher educators to move from being to acting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Borås, Sweden: University of Borås , 2019. no 1, p. 87-110
Keywords [en]
Digitalization, teacher educators, professional identity, Sweden
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Educational science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-14699OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-14699DiVA, id: diva2:1369847
Available from: 2019-11-13 Created: 2019-11-13 Last updated: 2023-09-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Lärarutbildarens professionella agency i en digital tid
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lärarutbildarens professionella agency i en digital tid
2023 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingen undersöker hur lärarutbildare uppfattar och hanterar sin yrkesvardag i en digital tid. Den digitala transformationen av samhället innebär att lärarutbildaren står inför att lära nytt, att förstå och hantera digitaliseringen i sitt professionella utövande och samtidigt utveckla studenters professionella digitala kompetens och en förståelse för sitt kommande digitala läraruppdrag. Att lärarutbildaren är i lärande är avgörande för att klara båda uppdragen, men att lära nytt och att professionellt utvecklas i en vardag som ständigt förändras är komplext. Med utgångspunkt i lärarutbildares berättelser om sin yrkesvardag är avhandlingens syfte att öka kunskapen om och bidra med förståelse för lärarutbildares uppfattningar såväl som manifestationer av professionell agency i en digital tid. Professionell agency har tidigare utforskats i olika arbetskontexter då studiet av agency är ett sätt att förstå individers handlande i förändring, men få studier belyser lärarutbildarens professionell agency i en digital tid. Så även studier om hur lärarutbildaren som individ själv uppfattar den digitala transformationen av arbetet. Det empiriska underlaget består av semistrukturerade intervjuer 2017 och 2020, - före och i övergången till distansläge - med samma lärarutbildare verksamma vid olika lärosäten i Sverige.

Avhandlingen bidrar med kunskap om vad som är särskilt utmärkande vad gäller kontextuella och individuella resurser och förutsättningar för lärarutbildarens utövande av agency. Studiens analyser visar att lärarutbildaren, för att hantera den digitala förändringen, utövar agency för att rama in det digitala professionella handlingsutrymmet, ett utövande som varierar mellan en hanterande och en vidgande agency, och för (om)förhandlingar av den egna professionella identiteten, ett utövande som varierar mellan en bibehållande och en formande agency. Lärarutbildarens professionella digitala handlingsutrymme påverkas av att autonomi och ensamhet används som medel för att hantera en digital förändring, att den semidigitala kulturen som lärarutbildare befinner sig i ger utrymme för att fördröja en utveckling, och slutligen avsaknad av en gemensam arena och ett organisatoriskt ansvar för epistemisk diskussion och reflektion över digitaliseringens påverkan på lärarutbildningen. För att möjliggöra digital professionell utveckling bör digitaliseringens påverkan på lärarutbildarens epistemiska praktik lyftas fram i ljuset, kollegialt diskuteras och kritiskt granskas. Organisationen behöver ta hänsyn till och stödja lärarutbildarens utövande av agency, i förhandlingar av den professionella identiteten och känslor förknippade till digital förändring. Vidare bidrar de båda teoretiska modellerna i avhandlingen, som anpassats till en digital förändringsprocess, till att kunna utforma digitala kompetensutvecklingsinsatser.

Abstract [en]

Introduction

With the entry of digitalization into educational institutions, conditions for teaching, learning and knowledge acquisition have changed. A constant feature inprevious studies on digitalization in higher education has been a technologyoptimistic view, that technology automatically benefits learning and teaching, and that the university teacher ought to adapt to teaching with digital technologies. However, now the picture has become more nuanced, and a critical discussion is being held on the impact of technology on learning, pedagogy, and the human aspects of digital technology in education. Studies that contribute to this discussion by investigating teacher educators’ perceptions, attitudes, and metacognitive competencies in relation to digital innovations in teaching and professional development are needed. This since the digital transformation of society means that the teacher educator is faced with learning new things, understanding, and managing digitalization in their professional practice, and at the same time, developing students’ professional digital competence and understanding of their future digital teaching assignment. The teacher educator’s learning is crucial in coping with both assignments, but learning new things and developing professionally in a constantly changing everyday life is complex.

Aim and research questions

Based on teacher educators’ stories about their everyday professional life, the purpose of the thesis is to increase knowledge of and contribute understanding for teacher educators’ perceptions as well as manifestations of professional agency in a digital age. The research questions are:

1. How do the teacher educators perceive their professional day and themselves as professionals in a changed teaching assignment?

2. How does the teacher educator manifest agency in change?

Theoretical framework

The sociocultural perspective is the theoretical umbrella applied in the thesis through two models, partly a Professional development community model (Professional development community, PDC), partly the subject-centered sociocultural framework for professional agency (Subject-centered sociocultural approach) (SCSC). The PDC- model is used as an analytical tool to examine the teacher educator’s perceptions of their professional everyday life in a digital society and perceived conditions for learning and development at the individual, group, and organizational level in a teacher education context. To supplement the analysis from a group perspective, SCSC has been used as an analytical tool to examine the complex interplay between the individual’s professional agency, identity, and social context reflected in the teacher educator’s perceptions. The study of professional agency is a way of understanding the actions of professionals in change.

Method

Based upon the aim of the study, the research design can be described as a "basic qualitative study" (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). This is to enable the study how teacher educators understand and construct their reality and what meaning they attribute to their experiences. To get a multifaceted picture of the phenomenon on an individual basis, semi-structured interviews have been used as a method. In this thesis, interviews have been conducted at two specific times with the same participants, in June-September 2017 and May-July 2020, before and at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants were eighteen teacher educators working with pre-service teachers on a teacher education program for grades 4–6. To analyze the empirical data, thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) and qualitative content analysis with a directed approach was conducted (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005).

Contributions: A summary of the articles

Article A. Teacher educators’ perceptions of their profession in relation to the digitalization of society. The aim was to explore teacher educators’ perceptions of their profession in relation to the digitalization of society and skills that may be needed in the future. The article contributes to an in-depth understanding of how changes in schools and higher education linked to the digitalization of society affect the teacher educator’s professional everyday life and the conditions that are given and created to develop the student teachers’ readiness to teach and work in a digitized school.

Article B. The teacher educator’s perceptions of professional agency–a paradox of enabling andhindering digital professional development in higher education.

The aim was to investigate manifestations of professional agency in teacher educators’ perceptions about their professional everyday life in a digital society, as well as to gain insight into salient factors that influenced the teacher educator's professional agency and identity, with possible consequences for professional development. The article contributes an understanding of how professional agency affects the individual’s digital professional development as well as thegroup’s and the organization’s development.

Article C. Game face on when doing “good enough” work: Manifestations of professional agency in teacher educators’ perceptions of a transition to remote work. The aim was to investigate manifestations of professional agency in teacher educators’ perceptions about their professional everyday life, now in a distance mode, and gain insights into salient factors that influence teacher educators’ professional agency and identity and possible consequences for professional development. The article contributes to the understanding of how professional agency is exercised in a rapid, extensive change into digital work, in a transition to hybrid work, and its impact on the individual’s professional development.

Discussion and conclusion

The thesis contributes with knowledge about what is particularly distinctive in terms of contextual and individual resources and conditions for the teacher educator’s exercise of agency. The result show that the teacher educator, in order to manage the digital change, exercises agency to frame the digital professional space, an exercise that varies between a managing and an expanding agency, and(re)negotiations of their own professional identity, an exercise which varies between a maintaining and a shaping agency. Further, the analyses reveal that autonomy and solitude can be used as means in dealing with and controlling the digital transition that a teacher educator is affected by. Teacher educators see themselves as having a digital autonomy and often also as being professionally isolated, which makes room for action in the implementation of digital resources in their own teaching and development of their own digital competence with an impact on professional development at the individual, group, and organizational levels. Furthermore, teacher educators perceive themselves to be part of a semi-digital culture, which delays digital development. The results of the thesis indicate that the participating teacher educators primarily perceive themselves as objects that are digitized, rather than active subjects who drive digitalization forward. In this, the more digitally competent and interested colleagues have contributed to other participants being able to use their autonomy and their professional agency to minimize digital resources in, for example, the teaching situation and thus being able to delay their own digital development in the complex teaching mission while maintaining their professional identity. In the transition to distance mode, however, there will be a shift in digital autonomy and a cultural change as it was now not about how you as an individual should relate to the digital resources, which meant that all teacher educators were now faced with having to balance external and internal requirements more clearly regarding responsibility, quality, and willingness to change related to their digital teacher educator assignment. The teacher educator perceives that there is a lack of a common arena and an organizational responsibility for an epistemic discussion and reflection on the impact of digitalization on teacher education. The discussion and reflection on the epistemological and human aspects of digitalization as a phenomenon of change in teacher education has not been prioritized or given space. There is thus a lack of dialogue and reflection on issues that can be said to form the core of teaching and training, which has caused the teacher educator to exercise agency related to their own knowledge, practice, and professional identity.

To enable digital professional development, the impact of digitalization on the teacher educator’s epistemic practice should be highlighted, collegially discussed, and critically reviewed. The organization also needs to consider and support the teacher educator’s exercise of agency, negotiations of their professional identity and feelings associated with digital change to promote continued professional development to take place. Furthermore, the two theoretical models in the thesis, adjusted for a digital process of change, contribute in designing digital development efforts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: Högskolan Väst, 2023. p. 124
Series
PhD Thesis: University West ; 58
Keywords
Professional agency; digitalization; teacher educator; professional identity, Professionell agency; digitalisering; lärarutbildare; professionell identitet
National Category
Learning Pedagogical Work
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-20784 (URN)978-91-89325-53-1 (ISBN)978-91-89325-54-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-10-24, F313, Gustava Melins gata, Trollhättan, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

The article  "Game face on when doing “good enough” work: Manifestations of professional agency in Teacher educators’ perceptions of a transition to remote work". Educare is under review and not included in this electronic thesis.

Available from: 2023-10-02 Created: 2023-09-19 Last updated: 2024-01-10Bibliographically approved

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Roumbanis-Viberg, AnnaForslund Frykedal, KarinSofkova Hashemi, Sylvana

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