Workshop Teacher Learning and Professional Development


Teacher learning and professional development: constructing a professional or vocational identity


  • Prof. dr. Douwe Beijaard (Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands)
  • Prof. dr. Regina Mulder (University of Regensburg, Germany)


In addition to research on characteristics and the nature of teacher behaviour and knowledge, much research attention is paid nowadays to how teachers learn this behaviour and knowledge. This not only pertains to student or beginning teachers, but also to experienced teachers. The development of a professional or vocational identity can be seen as a specific way of looking at teacher learning and professional development. This topic will be addressed in several workshop parts.

The concept of professional or vocational identity (part 1)

After an introduction to the topic of the workshop, the first part of the workshop focuses on the concept of identity. Here different definitions will be discussed. What useful definitions are depends also on the way the process of identity development is considered to be. Therefore theories and empirical research on the development of identity from different perspectives will be used to get more insight in this process of development. Particular attention will be paid to:

  • A. Dilemmas and conflicting constraints in teacher learning and professional development as a result of taking a holistic perspective on identity development

Dilemmas and (conflicting) constraints often come into being through the interaction between the 'personal' and the 'professional' aspects of becoming and being a teacher. The PhD students will be asked to reflect on the kinds of dilemmas and constraints that may occur and ways and conditions that may prevent these and, thus, promote teacher learning and professional development.

  • B. Developing a professional or vocational identity during informal learning in the workplace

Here theories and empirical research on informal learning, and workplace learning will be discussed and its worth for explaining the process of identity development.

Development of a framework for explaining identity development (part 2)

All mentioned aspects will be used in the development of a framework. In this part of the workshop the PhD students are challenged to develop a theoretical framework/model for investigating the development of a professional or vocational identity. Determinants and conditions of identity developments have to be part of the framework and this can be used as a basis for formulating hypotheses. The results of this assignment will be presented. Then there is the opportunity to investigate what this model means for the Phd students own identity development as a researcher and/or teacher.

Preparation before the workshop

Prior to the workshop the participants will be asked to read some articles on the topic of this workshop. This information is needed to be able to do the assignments during the different parts of the workshop.a