How Do Irish Post-Primary Teachers Conceptualise Their Own Professionalism?

  • Edel Greene

Student thesis: EdD


This thesis explores the question: how do Irish post-primary teachers conceptualise their own professionalism? The central aim of the research is to give teachers a voice in defining what it means to be a professional teacher, within the context of new challenges posed by neoliberal ideologies and practices, which are increasingly informing educational policy. A total of sixteen teachers participated in semi-structured interviews as part of the research. The research employed an interpretative methodology and thematic analysis to the emergent data which was generated by a semi-structured interview process. The theoretical framework used to frame the analysis applied the tools of post-structural social
theory, specifically, Foucauldian conceptual propositions of social identity-formation, power and knowledge, to teachers’ experience of their own professional identity and professionalism.

The analysis and findings of this small scale interpretative, qualitative research study on teachers’ professionalism, highlight that teachers are currently entrenched in a struggle for control over, how their professional identity might be constructed, and the standards by which their professionalism is assessed. Neoliberal concepts of performativity, standards and accountability have recently become embedded in reformed practices and seek to redefine teachers’ professional identity and professionalism. The research concludes by staking the claim that unless teachers actively engage in an interrogation of the discourses and influences which assess their professional contribution and performance, they will conform to a professional identity that privileges the demands and values of the market. The discretionary judgement of the teacher, as currently understood
by those interviewed in this research, is consequently, greatly undermined by compliance to neoliberal values.
Date of Award6 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorGill Crozier (Supervisor) & Julie Shaughnessy (Supervisor)

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