Exploring teachers’ sense of professional identity in relation to their experiences in two deprived rural districts of Northern Ghana

PhD Thesis

Ayinselya, R. 2018. Exploring teachers’ sense of professional identity in relation to their experiences in two deprived rural districts of Northern Ghana. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsAyinselya, R.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

The main aim of this study was to understand how public basic school teachers in two deprived rural districts of Northern Ghana make sense of their professional identity based on interpretation of their experiences. Thus, the conceptual framework was based on teachers’ experiences in relation to the contextual dimension of their work (i.e. the school environment, community and district education management); the professional dimension and the personal dimension.

Data collection was carried out in Ghana from December 2016 to February 2017. Seven teachers were purposively selected across the Bongo and Nabdam Districts to serve as focus teachers for the study, although in line with the data collection method, there was the opportunity to interact with many other teachers during observation of the focus teachers in their schools. Data collection utilised semi-structured interviews and participant observations, while analysis involved exploring themes inherent in the data.

Five key themes emerged from the analysis of teachers’ experiences: ‘recognition’; ‘respect and regard’; ‘support’; ‘voice’ and ‘commitment’. Analysis of these themes together with the profiles of focus teachers revealed that teachers’ sense of professional identity was influenced not only by their personal values of making a difference in the lives of children, but also by their experiences in the classrooms, schools, community, District Education Offices and policy environment. Consequently, there emerged competing dimensions of teachers’ sense of professional identity as they were torn between sustaining their personal values in teaching and coping with constraints imposed by their work environment. Teachers still demonstrated commitment to fulfilling their personal values and professional responsibilities. However, they were prone to losing their sense of commitment, as constantly striving without the enabling conditions to do so was taking a toll on them.

The findings have implications for policy and practice which include the need to create contexts for teachers to participate in policy decisions. Education authorities, school heads and parents also need to support teachers, empathise with them, and show appreciation through praise and valuing of teachers’ expertise. On their own part, teachers need to feel valued inwardly, so they can feel a positive sense of identity as teachers who are making significant contributions to the lives of children and development of society.

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Publication process dates
Deposited07 May 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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