“Nailing it Across the Board”: Negotiating Identity as Trades Teachers

Barbara Gustafson


A vocational identity of teacher has been linked in research to teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and commitment to the profession. For postsecondary college instructors, teaching is most often a second career, with the first career providing the subject matter expertise that is the foundation of the second. The first career also carries an established vocational identity, leading to a negotiation of that concept with the new identity of teacher. This article presents recent doctoral research exploring vocational identity among postsecondary trades teachers in Western Canada. The exploratory mixed-methods study found the two identities of tradesperson and teacher were interconnected, with teaching seen by study participants as part of being a journeyperson, and the identity of tradesperson seen as essential to teaching in vocational education. An understanding of this negotiated interconnection provides insight for colleges in the hiring, training, and retention of trades teachers.


Education, Post-Secondary, Trades, Teachers Vocational Identity

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