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Biographical methods and professional practiceAn international perspective$
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Prue Chamberlayne

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9781861344939

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861344939.001.0001

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In quest of teachers’ professional identity: the life story as a methodological tool

In quest of teachers’ professional identity: the life story as a methodological tool

(p.264) (p.265) Eighteen In quest of teachers’ professional identity: the life story as a methodological tool
Biographical methods and professional practice

Marie-Françoise Chanfrault-Duchet

Policy Press

Combining literary with life history analysis of teacher's narratives, this chapter is concerned with how personal lives interact with changes in professional practice in the teaching of French in schools in France. Based on the research processes and initial findings of the project, this chapter focuses on the significance of the life story as a research device in understanding professional identity. This specific issue raises questions: How do we define ‘professional identity’?; How do teachers construct their professional identity in response to changes in practice?; What are the links between personal and professional identity?; To what extent can a life story be an effective methodological tool?; What do life stories tell?; How can the ethical and epistemological problems arising from the use of a life story in an open research team be resolved? Before discussing these questions, the chapter first sketches the main lines of argument concerning biographical methods and professional practice from the standpoint of professional identity, and outlines the research context. It then reviews the methodological potential of the life story through the analysis of two life stories. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the possible effects and applications of the research process and findings to teacher training.

Keywords:   personal lives, professional practice, teaching, life story, professional identity, methodological tool, biographical methods

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