Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 35, No. 3, August 2012, 289–303.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study explored how Finnish university-based subject teacher educators perceive their professional identity as a small group within a larger social context and with a mixed background.
The study is based on focus group interviews with 15 teacher educators in various teacher education programmes at four universities in Finland.
They were all teachers in subject didactics.
The results show that the identities of the subject teacher educators studied here are reconstructed over time, from a subject teacher identity to the identity of a subject teacher educator as an educationalist.
The close social interplay with other subject teacher educators within the faculty seems to contribute to a confident collective identity.
However, the self-identity is not congruent with the other-ascribed identity, which varies depending on the other party’s institutional context.
The subject teacher educators were perceived as educationalists or subject representatives depending on the institutional context.
For other teacher education groups, their identity was not stable, and perhaps they were not seen as fully competent in other disciplines either.
This has had social and professional implications for them, as they could not affiliate themselves with any other teacher education group.
Furthermore, the present results indicate that the Finnish subject teacher educators experienced teaching as a central part of their duties.
However, they saw the benefit of engaging in research.
They felt institutional pressure to integrate consumption and especially production of research results into their profession.
On the other hand, research activity appeared to be vital for their professional identity and for coping with educational changes.
The teacher educators said that the conditions for research could be more supportive.
A conclusion to be drawn from this study is that Finnish subject teacher educators are generally both broadly and highly educated, and that they view themselves as educationalists, rather than subjects specialists.