‘Do you ever get this feeling…?’ University teacher narratives from a research-led university

Cavani, Jane Sarah O'Reilly (2017) ‘Do you ever get this feeling…?’ University teacher narratives from a research-led university. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

In 2002 a contractually differentiated teaching–focused post, University Teacher (UT), was created within my Russell Group HEI. This interpretivist study seeks to explore the impact of the ‘lived experience’ of this recent post on both myself and a group of 11 colleagues, some of whom were transferred and others employed as UTs. A narrative approach is adopted to evaluate existing public stories of the UK HE sector and changing definitions of academic functions and identities alongside original private stories, both my own and those co-constructed with participants. My primary research comprised in-depth narrative interviews with four Senior UTs, six UTs and one research-focused Lecturer recently transferred from a UT post. The interviews sought to elicit participants’ storied accounts of professional identity construction and management on the career paths towards their current posts and beyond. The interview data was examined reflexively using a pragmatic hybrid model based on a range of narrative analytic lenses: structural and linguistic narrative analysis of three case studies, together with thematic analysis of narratives across all 11 interviews.

The participants shared highly personal, emotional and reflective accounts. The case study analysis centred on the identification and scrutiny of overarching plotlines, key episodes, genres and characterisation. The thematic analysis revealed common concerns around the job title, the relative weightings and status of teaching and scholarship, the nature of scholarship and career progression. The complex connection between intra-, inter-, cultural and structural dimensions proved key; personal values and agency, relationships with peers and managers, and institutional and sectoral priorities were all essential to the achievement of a progressive, as opposed to a regressive or static, UT identity typology. UTs clearly had some control over their own agency. However, institutional leaders and line managers were seen to have more significant power to promote or inhibit identity growth for academics on differentiated contracts.

Changes have recently been made to the UT post in relation to the job title and promotion criteria. In the conclusions I suggest that further research is needed on the effect of these changes and on the impact of contractual differentiation on staff and students across the HE sector. Implications for institutions and staff on how to facilitate teaching-focused academics’ positive identity growth are also put forward.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Academic identity, narrative(s), research-led universities, teaching contracts.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LF Individual institutions (Europe)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Odena, Dr. Oscar and Hedge, Professor Nicki
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Jane S O Cavani
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8619
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2017 15:22
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 10:25
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8619

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