When, where and how am I now? Researching identity in university communities of practice

Ryan, J and Walker-Gibbs, B 2012, 'When, where and how am I now? Researching identity in university communities of practice', in Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education Annual Conference (AARE 2011), Hobart, Australia, 27 November-1 December 2011, pp. 1-13.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title When, where and how am I now? Researching identity in university communities of practice
Author(s) Ryan, J
Walker-Gibbs, B
Year 2012
Conference name AARE 2011: Researching Across Boundaries
Conference location Hobart, Australia
Conference dates 27 November-1 December 2011
Proceedings title Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education Annual Conference (AARE 2011)
Publisher AARE
Place of publication Deakin, ACT, Australia
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Abstract The establishment of communities of practice (CoPs) has emerged nationally as a strategy to promote 'excellence' in teaching and learning in Australian universities. CoPs in Australian universities have been reported as fostering the development of identity in practice and collegial academic identity. In these accounts identity development is associated with storytelling around everyday practice, although the relationship between narrative and identity development has not been explored or described in detail. Similarly, although the complex and changeable university contexts in which these CoPs operate is noted and described in the literature, there is currently no detailed account published of the relationship between the broader discourses that shape these contexts and the process of identity development in university CoPs. We argue in this paper that there is a need for a new way of researching identity formation in university CoPs. Drawing on Trinh Minh Ha's work (1992), we propose that fragmentation be used as a working metaphor for thinking about and researching identity development in university CoPs, with direct reference to the contexts in which they operate. The proposed new approach takes into account the complexities and variety of discourses that influence identity formation in CoPs and the changeable and sometimes contradictory Enterprise University contexts in which Australian CoPs operate. In this paper fragmentation is described and applied to the process of researching identity formation in university CoPs. This paper also describes how fragmentation guides the combined narrative research and discourse analysis methods used in the proposed approach. This paper argues that fragmentation provides the means for developing practical (or experiential) insights as well as conceptually structuring a useful method for investigating discursive factors, to open up a variety of potential new understandings about identity formation in university CoPs.
Subjects Education not elsewhere classified
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