Becoming A University Lecturer in Teacher Education: Expert School Teachers Reconstructing their Pedagogy and Identity

Mar. 01, 2010

Source: Professional Development in Education, Volume 36, Issue 1 & 2 (March 2010), p. 9-24. (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article contributes to understanding of the professional learning of expert school teachers when they are appointed as university-based teacher educators.

Research Question

The key question is, 'How do new teacher education lecturers experience their transition from professional practice as school teachers to become lecturers in teacher education based in higher education?'

The study

This is a case study of a single large UK teacher education department. A qualitative analysis is used to interpret the transcripts of 16 semi-structured interviews with newly appointed lecturers, who have moved from school-based teacher roles and have less than five years' experience working in higher education.

The sources of data included interviews with lecturers, interviews with their line managers responsible for the new teacher educators, and analysis of institutional documents related to appointment, induction and staff development.


The new lecturers in teacher education experience challenges to their existing identities as school teachers. They appear to be building new identities as teachers in higher education, basing their teaching at least in part on scholarship, but most often without seeing themselves as becoming active researchers or academics. They experience uncertainty within themselves, the department, their teaching teams and the educational partnership, concerning the value of more abstract theory in relation to practitioner knowing.

There also appear to be tensions between institutional strategic requirements, which include a focus on research activity, and the pressures within the professional field, which include a punitive inspection regime, to be a credible school teacher. The management of this balancing act is left to line managers through their implementation and mediation of the induction and appraisal policies, through work allocation and by setting expectations and creating cultures for scholarship and research.


The paper concludes that these tensions within the workplace context encourage the new lecturers to hold on to their identity and credibility as school teachers rather than to pro-actively seek new identities as academics within the professional field of teacher education.

Updated: Mar. 14, 2010