University of Tasmania
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Becoming an accomplished professional : a narrative inquiry in tertiary education, Punjab, Pakistan

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:38 authored by Anjum, I
Becoming an accomplished professional is an in-depth narrative understanding of tertiary education teachers' experiences from Punjab, Pakistan. Within their unique circumstances, tertiary teachers as lifelong learners, involve their personal, social and professional selves in their learning process, hold ongoing reflective conversation about their practice, and acquire abilities to make sound professional judgements. While the emerging tensions and dilemmas ‚Äö- from inside and outside their complex educational landscapes ‚Äö- challenge their abilities, they also create opportunities for them to continually shape their knowledge, skills and dispositions. In Punjab, overall teacher quality in the tertiary or higher education sector is problematic. Particularly, a coherent teacher support system that ensures teacher preparation, development and growth is absent. Given that, the form that becoming accomplished takes in this context is not yet known. This inquiry is a step towards filling that gap by developing an in-depth understanding of tertiary teachers' struggles involved in their process of becoming accomplished within their natural setting. While addressing this aim, the inquiry highlights the contextual and socio-cultural influences on teachers' learning and development and the implications of these influences on their teaching lives, practices and identities as tertiary education teachers in Punjab. A narrative inquiry approach set within a constructivist epistemology has been used to explore the experiences and perceptions of six experienced teachers from the Postgraduate and Degree Colleges in Punjab. The data generated through conversations, observation, photographs and documents were analysed using Polkinghorne's (1995) 'narrative analysis' and 'analysis of narratives' and Clandinin and Connelly's (2000) 'three-dimensional narrative inquiry space'. This approach to data analysis was not only to enhance multiple meanings by giving voice to experience as six individual narratives, but also to highlight commonalities in their experiences. Moreover, a novel, cutting-edge technique, fictionalised 'dialogic narratives', was used to analyse and present the findings of my inquiry. Overall becoming accomplished for my research participants in the Punjabi tertiary educational sector is a solitary endeavour, relying on an internal locus of control and driven by a sense of ethical responsibility. Two provocative findings have emerged from this inquiry. First, through six independent narratives, this inquiry depicts the influences of the Punjabi socio-cultural values, practices and preferences in shaping my research participants' views as learners and developers. These narratives reveal my research participants as reflective practitioners who learn by challenging their assumptions, raising questions and making sense of their experiences. Their struggle amidst their belittled agency, equity and voice in their professional context reveals their pedagogic identities as constructivist, developmental and reformist educators. Second, the four themes that this inquiry reveals ‚Äö- relationship, quest, creativity and optimism ‚Äö- were explored to produce results which were used to generate a model of becoming an accomplished professional. These themes denote the common path that my research participants followed to attain professional accomplishment. Conscious of their learning needs and contextual affordances, these tertiary education teachers take inspiration from their outside-workplace influences ‚Äö- mainly, socio-cultural values, impactful mentors and networking. Primarily guided by their intrinsic motivation, these teachers value their teaching roles as ethical responsibility. This leads them to respond creatively to their adversity and meet their pedagogical and intellectual needs. What is more, their optimistic dispositions reveal their assumption that their teaching community can increase its productivity at work if their learning and teaching needs are well provided for. While six tertiary education teachers from Punjab were the lens through which the experiences of becoming accomplished were explored in this inquiry, these results may be of interest to diverse groups ‚Äö- as teachers who undertake this journey, as institutional managers and leaders who function with these teachers, as educational authorities who enact teacher education and development policy, and as students and members of the community who these teachers serve.


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