Tensions for lecturers’ professionalism
: An exploration of how vocational lecturers in a general further education college perceive the relationship between their professionalism and technology enhanced learning

  • Heidi Mcwade

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research explores how vocational lecturers in a general FE college perceive the relationship between their professionalism and technology enhanced learning (TEL). During my professional journey as a vocational lecturer, emerging awareness that stakeholders have more say than vocational lecturers about how the vocational curriculum is defined and assessed prompted this study which uncovers tensions occurring within my professional context. Performativity and managerialism are underlying themes within this research, and theories of vocational pedagogy, professional image and vulnerability, extended professionalism and PCK support my discussion of issues within three tensions for lecturers’ professionalism.
This research adopts an interpretivist, generic qualitative, insider-researcher methodology framed by constructivism to explore perceptions of 12 purposefully selected participants. Each were interviewed twice using semi-structured interviews. Interview data were analysed using constructivist thematic analysis. Findings reveal that the relationship between professionalism and TEL for FE vocational lecturers is tense. Three tensions associated with use of time, enabling and disabling aspects of TEL for learners’ outcomes, and within the focus and purpose of the vocational curriculum are revealed. The use of TEL appears to be driven by performativity through assessment and components of professional image.
Vocational lecturers’ professional relationships with learners seem affected by performative and managerialist issues, professional image and over-extended professionalism.
This research offers an original contribution by bringing together the three concepts of FE lecturers’ professionalism, vocational pedagogy and TEL. Also, by uncovering three tensions for vocational lecturers’ professionalism and new ways of understanding them. The research reveals that tensions are not likely to go away and will not be resolved with simplistic solutions.
The study has implications for teacher training and development programmes, leadership and management within FE colleges, vocational learners and other stakeholders more broadly regarding the tensions within vocational teaching practice.
Date of Award13 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorAnthony Thorpe (Director of Studies) & Julie Shaughnessy (Co-Supervisor)


  • Professionalism
  • professional image
  • professional knowledge
  • Technology enhanced learning
  • stakeholders
  • vocational pedagogy
  • Further Education

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