The Leap of Faith: Experiences of Early Career Academics

Breslin, M. , Harvie, J. , Leslie, B. and Mclaren, E. (2019) The Leap of Faith: Experiences of Early Career Academics. SERA 44th Annual Conference: Creative Visions for Educational Futures, Edinburgh, UK, 20-22 Nov 2019. (Unpublished)

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Strand: Professional and vocational learning (including teacher education and higher education). Aims: This paper aims to examine the experiences of four early career academics in transition from the state school system to higher education. This paper will use the framework of teacher agency (Priestley et al., 2015) to consider the opportunities and challenges facing early career academics involved in negotiating this change in culture. This study is to provide an overview on how their agency is expressed in this new setting. Methods: This research draws on self-study methodology, which is self-initiated, interactive with a focus on improvement. This involves qualitative methods where validity is based on integrity (LaBoskey, 2004). This research critically evaluates the experiences and practices of early career academics in relation to agency. The data presented comes from a small-scale study conducted over a 12-month period involving the analysis of collaborative professional dialogue and reflective writings generated from the experiences of the academics. Data is analysed using a qualitative thematic approach based on the ecological view of teacher agency (Prestley et al 2015). Findings: Key themes are categorised under the headings of structural, cultural and material influences, which, impact agency. Similarities emerged in terms of opportunities and challenges experienced by the four academics. The key themes identified were; the specialist language used, the lack of structure imposed on working patterns, the management of people and processes being characterised as more horizontal and less rigid, the need to engage in scholarship and research and the lack of concrete exemplification of scholarly activity. All these variables were found to present both challenges and opportunities for new academics to diversify their skills and knowledge. Conclusion: We conclude by exploring the implications of these findings and recommend the need to embrace a proactive approach, engaging in generative dialogue (Boreham and Morgan, 2004) to empower and enhance agency. This paper explores what new possibilities could be developed to improve the transition of professionals into future early career academics. There is scope to expand this research to further encompass a wider range of colleagues across the university.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:Early career academics, higher education, agency.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mclaren, Miss Evelyn and Leslie, Mr Brian and Harvie, Dr Julie and Breslin, Mark
Authors: Breslin, M., Harvie, J., Leslie, B., and Mclaren, E.
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Educational Leadership & Policy
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Pedagogy, Praxis & Faith
Research Group:Leap of Faith

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