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Something to Do Something to Be: A study of students' vocational identity formation in adult education
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7732-3658
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Något att göra, någon att vara : En studie om komvuxelevers yrkesidentitetsutveckling (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to understand how vocations are learned in adult education by exploring the vocational identity formation of students in Municipal Adult Education (MAE) in Sweden. By analysing interviews of adult students during different stages in their Vocational Education and Training (VET) through working life, this study contributes to the fields of adult education and VET. The theoretical framework centres on the concept of identity, utilising communities of practice, and is nuanced with the concepts of sense of self and vocational habitus, in order to analyse both social practices and individual aspects of the students’ vocational identity formation.

The most standout finding is that VET in adult education can provide something beyond forming a vocational identity. In essence, the process of successfully completing an education can improve how students perceive themselves as adults, learners, and active members in society. The findings also show how the intersection between students’ perceptions of themselves, their education, and their vocation create barriers that they must overcome in order to progress in their identity formation. Overcoming barriers is an important part of the learning process that is towards a vocational identity, however, while some barriers are surpassed, some persist, and some are substituted by new ones.

These processes in turn affect how students identify and dis-identify with educational and vocational practices, which in turn influence how they participate in these practices. To the extent that students progress in their vocational identity depends on a variety of factors, related to their ability to participate in the social practices offered by education, primarily time in school and access to workplace-based training. Furthermore, the process of learning a vocation is a complex social venture and the findings argue that there is a risk in attributing students’ struggles solely to issues pertaining to vocational learning as this may overlook underlying structural challenges faced by students.

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med denna avhandling är att förstå hur yrken lärs i vuxenutbildning genom att utforska yrkesidentitetsutvecklingen hos elever inom kommunal vuxenutbildning i Sverige. Genom att analysera intervjuer med vuxenstuderande under olika stadier i deras yrkesutbildning och yrkesliv bidrar denna studie till områdena för vuxenutbildning och yrkesutbildning. Den teoretiska ramen fokuserar på identitet som begrepp och utgår från teori om praktikgemenskap (communities of practice) som också breddas med begrepp rörande elevers självuppfattning (sense of self) och yrkeshabitus (vocational habitus) för att analysera både sociala praktiker och individuella aspekter av studenternas yrkesidentitetsutveckling.

De mest framträdande resultaten är att deltagande i yrkesutbildning som vuxen kan erbjuda något utöver lärandet av en yrkesidentitet. Vuxna yrkeselever som genomgår och klarar en utbildning kan också stärkas i hur de ser på sig själva, i hur de uppfattar sig som vuxna, som lärande individer eller som aktiva samhällsmedborgare. Resultaten visar också hur samspelet mellan hur eleverna uppfattar sig själva, deras utbildning och deras yrke kan skapa barriärer, eller hinder, som de måste övervinna för att fortsätta sin identitetsutveckling. Att ta sig förbi barriärer är en viktig del av den lärandeprocess som rör sig gentemot en yrkesidentitet men även om eleverna tar sig förbi vissa barriärer, kvarstår vissa och andra byts ut.

Elevernas lärandeprocesser påverkar också hur eleverna identifierar och avidentifierar sig med/från olika utbildnings- och yrkespraktiker, vilket i sin tur påverkar hur de aktivt deltar och interagerar i dessa praktiker. Hur framgångsrika de väl är i sin yrkesidentitetsutveckling beror därtill på olika faktorer kopplade till deras möjlighet att tillhöra de sociala praktiker som erbjuds av utbildningen, i förhållande till mängden tid i skolan och tillgång till arbetsplatsförlagd utbildning. Därtill kan processen att lära sig ett yrke vara en komplex social resa och resultaten visar på att det finns en risk i att tillskriva elevernas utmaningar enbart till frågor som rör yrkeslärande då detta kan förbise underliggande strukturella utmaningar som studenterna står inför.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2023. , p. 91
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 255
Keywords [en]
Vocational Identity, Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education, Municipal Adult Education, Pedagogy, Educational Sociology
Keywords [sv]
Yrkesidentitet, Yrkesutbildning, Vuxenutbildning, Komvux, Pedagogik, Utbildningssociologi
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-198720DOI: 10.3384/9789180754255ISBN: 9789180754248 (print)ISBN: 9789180754255 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-198720DiVA, id: diva2:1807008
Public defence
2023-11-24, Vallfarten (VAL), Building Vallfarten, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-10-24 Created: 2023-10-24 Last updated: 2023-10-24Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. A Path Towards a Possible Future – Adult Students’ Choice of Vocational Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Path Towards a Possible Future – Adult Students’ Choice of Vocational Education
2022 (English)In: Vocations and Learning, ISSN 1874-785X, E-ISSN 1874-7868, Vol. 15, no 1, p. 111-128Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Today’s society is characterized by high unemployment, a prevailing trust in and demands for an academic degree, and an emphasis on the individual’s own responsibility for their educational choices. This study aims to examine adults’ vocational education choices, their intentions in connection with municipal adult education (MAE) studies, and how this relates to identity formation. The study is based on 18 interviews and compares students from two vocational MAE training programmes in assistant nursing and floor laying. The analysis has identified different pathways concerning adult students’ decisions to enrol in municipal adult education and a specific vocational education and training (VET) programme. We see educational choices and paths in terms of underlying causes or as forward-looking rationalities. The results show that the process of identity formation is larger than simply one of vocational becoming within a vocational community of practice, since MAE studies involve a student’s whole being, including both their personal identity trajectories and their vocational identity formation. With this article we hope to provide a foundation for a pedagogical discussion about student intentions, focusing on how different subjectivities affect students with regard to their future vocational becoming.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2022
Keywords
Adult student, Identity, Municipal adult education, Educational choice, VET
National Category
Pedagogy Learning Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-180650 (URN)10.1007/s12186-021-09280-6 (DOI)000710095900001 ()2-s2.0-85117609747 (Scopus ID)
Note

Funding: Linkoping University

Available from: 2021-10-27 Created: 2021-10-27 Last updated: 2023-10-24Bibliographically approved
2. Being someone or doing something: How students in municipal adult education view their future vocation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Being someone or doing something: How students in municipal adult education view their future vocation
2022 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, Vol. 12, no 3, p. 71-94Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Being an adult, deciding what to do with your life, and trying to understand the consequences of educational choices can be difficult. Vocational education and training (VET) programmes within the Swedish municipal adult education (MAE) offer an opportunity to learn a vocation, and last 6–18 months. This study aims to explore how adult VET students perceive desirable vocational habitus and is based on 18 interviews comparing students from two vocational MAE programmes in assistant nursing and floor laying. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at the beginning of the students’ training and data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The results show that choosing a VET programme is a process of choosing what you want to do for work but also who you want to be. However, whether or not students see themselves as suitable is contrasted between how they perceive their future vocation and what the vocational community expects from them, which in turn affects their learning process and development of a vocational identity. Noticing the discrepancies between students’ perceptions and vocational expectations can both reduce the risk of losing students during training and reduces the risk of reproducing unequal ideals. 

Keywords
Adult education, Vocational education and training, Vocational identity, Municipal adult education
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-198719 (URN)10.3384/njvet.2242-458X.2212371 (DOI)
Conference
2023/10/24
Available from: 2023-10-24 Created: 2023-10-24 Last updated: 2023-11-30Bibliographically approved
3. Adults between school and working life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Adults between school and working life
2023 (English)In: Studies in the Education of Adults, ISSN 0266-0830, E-ISSN 1478-9833Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to examine what it means to be a student in a vocational education and training programme in the municipal adult education system in Sweden and how the interplay between school and working life affects students identity formation. To achieve this, 12 students from two different programmes have been interviewed at the end of their education: one group of assistant nurses and one group of floor layers. The results show that learning a vocation and developing a vocational identity is a journey through different practices with whom students both identify and dis-identify themselves. In these processes of identification, students can also undergo personal development in a broader sense or develop an identity as an adult. Understanding adult student identities, in particular how they see themselves as learners, can be beneficial for those working with and in adult learning. Furthermore, what the school teaches may conflict with the expectations and daily demands of working life, creating a divide between practices. Understanding the divide between school and working life, and how students are affected by this divide, can also facilitate the understanding of their vocational identity development process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2023
Keywords
Adult education, Adult learning, Identity, Vocational education, Working life
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-193696 (URN)10.1080/02660830.2023.2202957 (DOI)000974670900001 ()
Available from: 2023-05-15 Created: 2023-05-15 Last updated: 2023-10-24Bibliographically approved

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