Education in Context: A Phenomenological Case Study of a Cohort of Non-traditional Entrants to the Teaching Profession in the United Kingdom

By Michele Westhead.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper reports on a small scale phenomenological case study of ‘non-traditional’ students studying on a ‘non-traditional’ teacher education degree in the United Kingdom. The purpose of the research was to deepen the understanding of the complexities of the ‘lived experience’ this ‘new breed’ of trainee teachers in order to inform curriculum development and policy for the enhancement of both student learning and their professional development as a teacher. The data revealed that there are organisational, dispositional and situational influences on the students’ experience which either help or hinder the development of their academic and professional identities. These have differing personal and idiosyncratic effects depending on the biographies, cultural capital and habitus of each student teacher and how these variously interact with and are mediated by, forms of institutional habitus. Importantly it was shown that there are ‘four greedy institutions’ of work, study, home and teacher training which compete for these students’ time and energy that impacted on their lived experience which raise fundamental theoretical, practical and political questions around recruitment of individuals into both university and teacher training.

Keywords: Non-traditional Student, Teacher Training, Phenomenology, Greedy Institutions, Habitus, Higher Education Policy

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 12, pp.31-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 805.211KB).

Dr. Michele Westhead

Assistant Director of the Kings Learning Institute- Senior Lecturer in Higher Education, Kings Learning Institute, Kings College London, London, UK

Dr. Michele Westhead is Assistant Director of the Kings Learning Institute of Kings College London. She leads on institutional staff development and creating inter-disciplinary work and pedagogic research across the instituion, specialising in clinical education, curriculum development and academci leadership. She originally trained as a nurse and midwife and practised for 10 years until moving into the teaching of health and social care in higher, further and secondary education. She holds a Doctorate in Education awarded by the University of Surrey. She also has an MSc in Clinical Studies and Education and a PGCE from the Brighton University, a Postgraduate Diploma and professional qualifications in both nursing and midwifery from the University of Manchester. Her particular area of interest is in curriculum design and has a portfolio of developmental work ranging from Foundation Degrees in Education, Health and Social Care to a Masters and Professional Doctorate in Education, short courses to staff development programmes. Her teaching interests are predominantly in (clinical)pedagogy, curriculum, professional education, research methods and philosophy of social science research. Michele teaches on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) and Masters in Clinical Pedagogy (MA Clin Ped) programmes and is also a Ph.D supervisor. Michele’s research expertise is in the conceptualisation and exploration of professional knowledge and curriculum development. Her doctoral thesis was a phenomenological case study of the experiences of students who were working as classroom assistants whilst undertaking a bespoke teacher education programme. She focussed on how their ‘cultural capital’ as non-traditional students, such as gender, class, cultural identity, maturity, past educational experience and previous/enduring occupational identity as a teaching assistant impacted upon their personal, academic and professional development as a teacher. Other research interests stemming from the doctoral work include developing methodological approaches to capturing and responding to student experience, inter-disciplinary/multi-professional education, professional doctorates and work-based professional learning.


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