Contested identities of physiotherapy lecturers: applying Personal Construct Theory in three higher education institutions

Williams, Annabel Catherine (2019). Contested identities of physiotherapy lecturers: applying Personal Construct Theory in three higher education institutions. University of Birmingham. Ed.D.

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Introduction: Physiotherapy education has been situated in UK Universities for only twenty -seven years. Little is known about the factors that influence physiotherapy lecturers in the construction of professional identity in academia. Further, little is known about the impact of culture and goals of the institution on the construction of identity, and whether the drive for research-informed practice in physiotherapy influences professional identity formation. Current literature suggests that despite the occupational prestige afforded to physiotherapy, the profession holds a highly contested position within the Higher Education system. This thesis seeks to explore the experiences of eleven physiotherapy academics working within universities reflecting the stratified Higher Education system in the negotiation and construction of their professional identity in a contested environment.
Design: A case study design, semi-structured interviews and repertory grid interviews were used to explore the organisational, personal and professional factors influencing the work and identity of physiotherapy lecturers. Construction of identity is considered from a psychological perspective using Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory.
Participants: Eleven physiotherapy academics working in three different institutions.
Analysis: An in depth thematic analysis of semi structured interview data was completed creating three typologies of ‘Teacher', 'Academic -Researcher' and 'Physiotherapist'. Element analysis and Principal Component Analysis was applied to Repertory Grid Data revealing the individual superordinate constructs for professional identity of physiotherapy lecturers.
Results: The findings revealed widespread retention of a first order identity as a physiotherapist or based on a pastoral role. Assimilation of additional identities commensurate with the academic environment was influenced by a number of personal, professional and institutional factors.
Conclusion: Participants with a strong core role identity were better positioned to negotiate the complex factors within the institution and construct a professional identity for furtherance of the profession. This was irrespective of the primary identity of the participant.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ed.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ed.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education


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