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Title: An investigation into the professional identities of occupational therapists in higher education
Author: Wright, Catherine R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2667 5858
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2007
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This investigation was designed to explore how occupational therapists working in higher education perceived their professional identities, and how they described their experience of the change in those identities when they moved from clinical practice to employment in higher education. The study is small scale and qualitative. The data was collected by individual career narratives, participant-led focus groups and individual interviews. There were sixteen participants all of whom offered career narratives; two of these gave individual interviews but did not participate in the focus group. There were two focus groups one of six participants and one of eight. One person from the larger focus group did not undertake an individual interview; all the others did so there were fifteen individual interviews in all. This data collection was supported by member and colleague commentary, field notes and a research diary. The commentary of colleagues expanded the number of participants to forty one whose comments were all considered and formed a part of the data base and triangulation. Analysis was by researcher immersion in the data, by continual checking, rechecking, and reconsideration until key themes emerged which were felt to be authentic by researcher and participants. The findings were presented and discussed in three broad areas: professional identity, personal journey and belonging and becoming, supported by participant quotations which were seen as the central voice of the study. The investigation suggested that the power and meaning of professional identity as an occupational therapist cannot be underestimated. Participants described a challenging, and sometimes painful, personal journey in their changed professional role, which was located in the central dilemma of the thesis: the transition from expert to novice. Contrasting workplace cultures were noted as causing some confusion in expectations. The need to belong to a suitable community of practice was seen as important, and support for the notion of several overlapping belongs was indicated. An acknowledgement of the meaning and experience of the transition from expert in onearea to novice in another needs to be more fully understood, acknowledged and managed to support the best interests of individuals and communities of practice.
Supervisor: Clegg, Sue ; Aspinwall, Kath Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available