The birth and development of Vocational Education Teachers’ (VET) professional identity

2014 IJRSE – Volume 3 Issue 5


Koski-Heikkinen, Anne
Kainuu Vocational College, Finland (

Määttä, Kaarina
University of Lapland, Finland (

Uusiautti, Satu*
University of Lapland, Finland (


The purpose of this study was to analyze how VETs construct their identities in their career-related narratives. This was studied through three research questions: (1) How does professional identity manifest itself when described by VETs? (2) How does one end up in a VET’s career and how is this career decision related to the development of professional identity? and (3) How do VETs perceive the future of professional identity? The narrative method was chosen because it suits extremely well to research on teachers’ professional development and identity construction: Teachers create and construct their identities by talking, interpreting, and reflecting their experiences and opinions. In this study, Finnish VETs (N=12) were recruited from one vocational education college with multiple fields. The narrative data obtained from them included oral (n=5) and written (n=7) narratives. The narratives were categorized with the analysis of narratives and combined as conclusions with the narrative analysis. The VET’s narratives included four main themes defining their professional identities: substance knowledge, pedagogical expertise, work-life skills, and developmental abilities. Based on the data, two main ways of ending up in a VET’s career could be distinguished. As a whole, a VET’s identity appeared complex and dynamic. The development of a VET’s professional identity was viewed from four basic perspectives. Suggestions for vocational teacher education are given in the light of the findings of this study.

Keywords: professional identity; vocational education teacher; narrative research; vocational education; identity development



*Corresponding Author