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Research design

The research team will work with a sample of 18 primary teachers from across the West Midlands region of the UK. The research involves two school-based visits, both in the spring term of 2015. The principal aim of the visits is to talk to teachers about the current phase of their careers and any professional, situated or personal influences that may impact on their professional identity.

Data will be collected via three interconnected instruments: critical event identification lines, narrative approach interviews and repertory grid interviews.

  1. The critical event identification line involves teachers recalling “turning points” (Strauss, 1959: 67) in their work and lives – key moments and experiences that have had a significantly positive or negative impact on their identity as a teacher. This instrument will be administered prior to the narrative approach interview and used as a basis for the subsequent dialogue with participants.
  2. The narrative approach interview offers teachers an opportunity to reflect on stories organized around specific critical events in order to focus on developments in their personal and professional lives and changes over time.
  3. The repertory grid interview allows participants to identify personal constructs in terms of how they experience attitudes, thoughts, and feelings in a personally valid way (Solas, 1992). For the purposes of this study, the grid is constructed using a) patterns emerging from the critical event identification line and narrative approach interviews; and, b) specific events relating to a particular teacher’s identity development (Ingvarson & Greenway, 1984, Fransella et al, 2003).

Fransella, F., Banister, D. & Bell, R. (2003). A Manual for Repertory Grid Technique. London: John Wiley & Sons.
Goodson, I. (1981). Life Histories and the Study of Schooling. Interchange, 11, 62-96.
Ingvarson, L. & Greenway, P. (1984). Portrayals of Teacher Development. The Australian Journal of Education, 28, 45-64.
Solas, J. (1992). Investigating Teacher and Student Thinking About the Process of Teaching and Learning Using Autobiography and Repertory Grid. Review of Educational Research, 62, 2, 205-225.
Strauss, A.L. (1959). Mirrors and Masks: The search for identity. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.