University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Retaining primary teachers: sustaining a positive professional identity and a commitment to teaching in early-, mid-, and late career phase

Watkins, Maxine (2019) Retaining primary teachers: sustaining a positive professional identity and a commitment to teaching in early-, mid-, and late career phase. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

Text (PhD Thesis)
Maxine Elizabeth Watkins_Thesis_BL.pdf - Submitted Version

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The importance of the quality of teachers in raising standards in our schools is increasingly acknowledged by school leaders and policy makers. With ongoing concerns in England regarding teacher recruitment and retention, it is essential to schools and the wider population that teachers are able to retain their commitment to the profession.
Educational research exploring the work and lives of teachers has discovered that teachers’ identities and career phases influence their commitment and resilience, and that a teacher’s professional identity is mediated by the contexts in which they live and work. Previous studies have tended to focus on developing a professional identity in early career while relatively fewer studies have focused on how teachers sustain a sense of professional identity and their commitment over time.
This qualitative study uses a constructivist grounded theory design to give a voice to 20 primary school teachers working in different school contexts in England. Teachers working in early-, mid-, and late-career phases were interviewed to help further understanding of how and why primary school teachers sustain a positive professional identity and commitment across their career.
A narrative approach was taken, with informal life history conversations and professional time line interviews being conducted with each participant. Two participants from each career phase also took part in a follow up semi-structured interview which gave an opportunity for clarification of any points raised in previous interviews, and also to discuss emerging themes within the data and to receive their feedback. In line with the constructivist grounded theory approach, data was analysed through coding, constant comparison and theoretical conceptualizing.
Analysis revealed the complex nature of teacher professional identity, supporting the notion that identity is dynamic and contextual, and has drawn from psychosocial perspectives to acknowledge the intersection in the construction of professional identity and commitment. A multilevel, identity-based model of teacher career is presented that differentiates between levels of professional identity (individual relational and collective) and their relationship to different foci of commitment (personal, situated and professional).
This study makes empirical contributions to conceptual areas of teacher career, professional identity and commitment. Results may be useful for policy makers both at school and national level in supporting continuing professional development and retaining quality primary teachers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University's requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 2019.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: teacher identity, teacher commitment, teacher retention, teacher career, identity
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
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Depositing User: Maxine Watkins
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2022 10:59
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2022 10:59

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