Degrees of virtue: inculcating a professional academic habitus in the field of post 1992 higher education

PhD Thesis

Marriott, Laura-Lee 2012. Degrees of virtue: inculcating a professional academic habitus in the field of post 1992 higher education. PhD Thesis
AuthorsMarriott, Laura-Lee
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

This study aims to contribute original knowledge of the identity of post-1992 academics to inform the debate surrounding the professionalization of higher education teachers. The setting was a modem university in the East Midlands. Bourdieusian theoretical conceptualizations of the mediated relations between agency and structure (habitus/field theory) were applied to deconstruct/reconstruct the nature of these relations within the university's academic workforce. This investigation revealed disjunctions amongst staff members. The study's findings suggest that these might be addressed through structured training in the logic of practice for recruits. Bourdieu [1930-2002] developed a mixed methods methodology, combining positivist and phenomenological research paradigms to ensure breadth and depth in ethical data interrogations. This approach informed the sequential mixed design of the study. The first phase (survey) elicited profile and benchmarking data and perceptions of field forces and conditions from sixty respondents. Most lacked teaching qualifications or experience on entry. The second phase (fifteen interviews) captured personal narratives for subsequent thematic analysis. Current evaluation of primary data indicates three significant trajectories analyses: effective actionlbehaviour arising from the meaningful convergence of the individual's competences (mapped as habitus), the organizational environment (field) and the job's demands (practice). Data filtration through these lenses uncovered destabilizing divergences. Significantly, most participants eschewed identification as an 'academic'; seeing themselves as first and foremost a teacher. Their key concerns were negative perceptions of management and student demands as threats to personal efficacy, thus an accredited teacher training programme instilling a dual professionalism was broadly welcomed. This study provides timely sociological perspectives on the government's recent positive correlation between funding and new staff accreditation. Institutional reliance upon existing and contract staff, however, suggests their training needs warrant further investigation. This thesis argues for such training to make explicit the science of pedagogy and the art of teaching to all teaching staff through the conscious integration of habitus/field theory in higher education teacher training. In this way, both agent and field are strengthened, to their mutual advantage.

KeywordsHabitus / field theory; Teacher training in HE; Mixed methods methodology
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Web address (URL)hdl:10545/322740
File Access Level
File Access Level
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Jul 2014, 11:10
Publication dates2012
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