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Researching academic identity: using discursive psychology as an approach

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Current thinking on academic identities is heavily influenced by developments in other disciplines, notably sociology. This accords with Haggis’s (2007) challenge for educational researchers to engage with current theory and methods from across the social sciences. However, the traditional sister discipline to education, psychology, seems underrepresented in the academic identities literature. This article demonstrates the use of a form of discourse analysis developed within discursive psychology and argues that this offers a complementary level of analysis to studies inspired by realist social theory. Discourse analysis of this sort provides the basis for identifying the mechanisms through which identities are adopted, negotiated and altered. The demonstration of this method relates to a longitudinal study into teacher development among participants on the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education at the London School of Economics. This study shows how this method might be used to develop pedagogic research into areas such as academic identities, conceptions of teaching and threshold concepts.

Keywords: academic identity; discourse analysis; psychology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Teaching and Learning Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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