[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2013.
The research reported in this study is located in a major curriculum reform programme
commissioned by the Cypriot government and introduced into all public primary schools
in September 2011. The study has a specific focus on teacher professional identity
in changing times, not least through examining how teachers engage with an external
intervention. The study identifies and deploys conceptual tools to examine how and
why teachers have been positioned through this reform, and how there is a need to
recognise their role as architects and key agents to curriculum reform policies. This
research uses a case study approach and operates on three levels. At the micro level,
I report on four primary school teachers’ professional lives utilising multiple sources
of evidence. At the meso level, I locate these four teachers into a wider context
by reporting on data collected from 308 questionnaires distributed to teachers in
29 schools before the implementation of the reform programme and a year after. Finally,
at the macro level I report on the national policy context by looking at documents
and interviews with two purposively selected curriculum coordinators.Research data
revealed that teachers’ professional identity and its underpinning constructs such
as emotions, job satisfaction and professional commitment, autonomy, and confidence
were constantly challenged and negotiated within the changing educational setting.
Contextual and professional factors were found to affect to a great extent teachers’
identity. The unfolding of the research findings derived from the three levels of
this research and the use of Foucauldian governmentality as a theoretical lens led
to the exposition of the power relations embedded in teachers’ professional lives
and contributed to the further analysis of teachers’ identity within educational policy.
The case is made that the complexity of professional identity needs to be taken into
account by reform designers because teachers are the ones who embrace, reinterpret
and develop such efforts. The way and degree to which teachers understand, adjust,
perceive and enact on reforms are affected by the extent to which these innovations
interact with and challenge existing identities.This research project examines how
policy interplays with practice as well as how teachers in a highly centralised system
experience and respond to changes in their professional lives, what constitutes, shapes,
supports and undermines their practice, thus, making a contribution to the evidence
and theory base for the educational policy field. The study enriches the international
literature on professional identity and fills in the gaps with respect to teachers’
professional identity at a time of system wide change at a national level in Cyprus.
Finally, there is a methodological contribution as it concentrates on primary teachers
and utilises methods which are not widely used as the majority of undertaken research
is based mainly on surveys and interviews and focuses on secondary teachers.