Göteborg University ECER 2008 - FROM TEACHING TO LEARNING Workshop VETNET


Cecilia Mornata
ICO - Engineering, conception, organisation Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences Laboratory R.I.F.T. University of Geneva

Katja Vanini De Carlo
Mimèsis & adult training Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences Laboratory R.I.F.T. University of Geneva Unit “Teaching and learning” HEP Vaud (High Pedagogical School)

ABSTRACT In this paper we cross two different researches that are both focused on individual experiences in adult life. The first research studies the construction of professional identity of new teachers. Its purpose is to analyse how the professional status of a teacher is created, by considering it as a construction taking place during a large span in his life course. Particularly it explores how teachers tell significant life experiences during their first year as professionals. Vanini (2007a, 2007b) wants to understand more profoundly how different forms of identity can take place during this sensitive period in a professional’s career. The second research relates about the way individuals interact with knowledge. Mornata (2008) defines this particular interaction as a result of an individual epistemological process built up through life experiences (Charlot, 1997; Charlot, Bautier & Rochex, 2000; Beillerot, 1996; Beillerot, Blanchard-Laville & Mosconi, 2000). Those experiences continually modify the individual meaning of knowledge. Therefore, Mornata tries to understand the link between this meaning and personal experiences, to better explain individual interaction to knowledge. Both researches try to analyse the role of experiences in human development, and to deepen the understanding of how individual awareness about own practices takes place. The common hypothesis is that the construction of professional identity of an individual and his interaction with knowledge are strongly linked with the concept of experience. Therefore, the intent is to cross in this paper the two research methods and data, observing how they are linked and how it is in consequence possible to think adult training differently.


Introduction Identity and professional identity Literature on identity easily fills many bookshelves. It is still a topical issue, though, to try to define and understand its complex nature, which appears to be elusive in its various aspects. It makes full sense to question, as Fabbri and Formenti (1991) do, if and how identity is knowable and definable. Both questions, one ontological, the other epistemological, remain central in our scientific questioning. It is not possible to treat the entirety of the question about identity in this paper, however we propose here a provisory definition. A first, apparently simple, way to define identity as a concept is to consider it as the answer to the basic human question “Who am I?” (Fabbri & Formenti, 1991). But this definition has actually to be specified, in order to overcome a static conception of the construction of the self. We consider identity, following Marc (2004), as a complex phenomenon. Since Greek philosophy, it is constituted by a well-known paradox: identity means at the same time unity (which is unique) and unicity (which is distinct) (Gravé, 2002). Both elements of this paradox represent identity, which means that each subject feels himself different from others and universal at the same time. Identity seems to be constituted by a constant oscillation between closeness and opposition, assimilation and differentiation, proximity and distance of the individual from the other, from others. Nowadays identity, with its multiple belongings, cannot be seen as an intrinsic quality of the person (Ruano-Borbalan, 2004). It has to be considered as a process resulting from an encounter to oneself, to others, to the environment. It is necessary therefore to overcome the traditional opposition between personal and collective identity. Kaddouri (2006) explains dynamics of identity as an ensemble of elements composing and re-composing identity in a circular movement of permanent revision. We therefore want to use the concept of horizon of identity, a horizon that engages the person to go further to develop himself. This person’s search happens mainly through education and training, according to Malet (1998). Identity is finally defined as a tension towards, involving necessarily the application of strategies of identity allowing the subject to try and fill the gap caused by these tensions, between his identity for self and the identity for others (Camilleri et al., 1990). Lisimberti (2006) considers professional identity as a dynamic process that is integrating personal and professional dimensions. Perception of self, of one’s own professional role, as well as of one’s belonging to a professional group can be considered important elements that constitute identity. Being considered as a dynamic construction, identity is thereof particularly concerned by transformations: the person is constantly driven to re-elaborate its identity, according to its own development potential, and to its professional path. Seeing that professional and personal identity cannot be considered as separated, we are interested in the dialectic between the professional I and all the other dimensions of the I. Through the analyses made of this particular dialectic, we would like to highlight the individual’s searching process of personal continuities and coherences, changes and persistences (Malet, 1998). The identitarian dynamic has to be finally considered as the movement that allows the person to become a little more other while remaining himself (Baillauquès, 1999). It is important for us to underline that the study of this process of transformation implies important consequences in the matter of adult training. Professionalisation Professionalisation is, following Lang (1999), a process with multiple issues and stakes. This


term has two main meanings: the first concerns the new competences and knowledges one has to acquire to become professional; the other is referring to the social status of the professional category. Kaddouri (2005) proposes to explore tensions between the social level, looking at the place assigned to the subject, and the level of individual identity dynamics, ie the place claimed by the subject. Dubar and Tripier (2005) consider necessary to take into account the signs of subjectivity in professionalisation to understand the collectif processes. This means to us that professionalisation is understandable through the study of identity development of a new professional. It appears to be clear, as Mariani (1996) considers, that this definition of professionalisation is dynamic and therefore strongly linked to long life learning and training, because it takes in account the aptitude of improving one’s professional skills. Representations of marking experiences and knowledge Our research offers us a better understanding of the links between the way people define themselves and the way they define knowledge. To clarify those links will lead us to describe how people relate themselves to knowledge and, subsequently, will allow us to propose adult training taking into account this issue. We consider that this process of sense making about reality results from inner experiences (Dubet, 1994, Lahire, 2001), modifying representations that we have about knowledge. This process manifests itself through the sense that a person makes, in a particular moment, about her own experiences and knowledge. It is important to underline that this process is continuous and not determined once for all. Four elements structure this theoretical framework: a person as a plurality of identities, experiences, representations and knowledge. • Marking Experience As we said before, a person has several identities appearing from how she makes sens about her life in different domains. At the same time, a person is made of different experiences, lived in different social contexts. This heterogeneity of experiences and contexts is at the heart of the plurality of roles that the person has to assume in her everyday life. We consider that a person, to make sense about her reality, is in a continuous negotiation between her passed socialisation and her confrontation to the environment (Lahire, 2001). In this way, the present time is a bridge between what a person has lived and integrated in her past (her scheme of action) and the answer that she can provide now facing her present environment. A way to analyse this articulation between the past and the present is the concept of social experience. Dubet (1994) defines it as a combination of logics of actions helping the person to handle with a complex reality through integrated schemes or by creating new ones. This is possible only if the socialisation is partial and not total, when there is not a complete individual adherence to the social reality (Dubet, 1994, Dubet & Martucelli, 1998, Lahire, 2001). We are interested on the discourse that people make about their experiences, considering those as a junction between their past socialisation and their present individualisation, so as socially determinated but individually lived. • Representation We understand representation as a social construction helping people to make sense about reality (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). This one does not exist apart from social representation, so we consider each definition of reality as a social construction. This means that for us a representation is not a discrepancy between common sense and scientific definition, but reality itself, seen that this one does not exist beyond people beliefs (Seferdjeli, 2005). Considering a person as made of plural identities, being at the articulation of her past socialisation and her present environment, means that we want to favour, through the analyses 3

of representation, a dialectic between personal experiences and present time. • Knowledge In this research we consider knowledge as a social construct, we are therefore not going to present it thought a theoretical definitions. We are interested in representations of knowledge not considering a definition of it better or truer than another one. We regard knowledge in a general way, without specifying a field or an object composing it. So we can consider it as a group of objects, fields and elements that are significant for a person to define knowledge. In an exploratory research we have found that the discourse that a person does about her fundamental experiences is organised through a particular pattern of representations. The discourse that the person does about knowledge is organised through the similar pattern of representations. In certain cases, this pattern can be spotted in choices and actions that the person undertakes, and not only in her speech. We set the hypothesis that the pattern designed by the person from an emblematic personal experience is a synthesis and a catalyst of the speech that the person develops about his whole experiences, anterior and future. There is homology between the structure in the person’s speech about her personal experiences and in the person’s speech about knowledge. Our common framework From these theories we retain the following elements: • Professionalisation is defined as the process allowing the person to become professional in her field. We intend this process as an identity process ; • The person is plural and constituted by different identities; • We define identity through these three elements: o the feeling of self as unique individual o the values and principles appearing to be at the bases of the professional choice o the image of self as part of a professional community; • These three elements can be called representations; • These representations are organised according to a pattern caracterising the speech of a person about her personal path and knowledge; • Representations are the result of the sense that the person makes about reality; • Experiences structure that sense making, which means that experiences structure identities. Our questionning Our researches focuses on the links between the sense making about one’s path and the sense making about one’s professional identity. In this paper, we cross two different methodologies to deepen this question: What contributes to the integration of a biographical approach and an experiential approach in the study of professionalisation? In this aim we crossed two different types of data (i) biographical portfolios (ii) comprehensive interviews about personal path and about knowledge and two ways of analysing them (i) conceptualizating professionalisation through a model (ii) finding representations constituting a pattern. 4

Methodology Biographical portfolios as a research method In a research about the construction of teacher’s professional identity we are implementing what we call a biographical portfolio. Two terms are at the base of this new methodology and their association is innovative in educational research: portfolio and biographical. Portfolios are well known and originally used in the artistic field to show and value an artist’s work, in particular his masterpieces. It has been transferred in fields such as education and adult training, as an assessment tool and training method. In teacher training, its raising use and value is confirmed by recent literature (Vallerand & Martineau, 2007). On the other hand, its use as a research method is quite new and still in development. The particular characteristic of our concept is given by he adjective biographical. This method offers the opportunity to take into account temporalities and various dimensions of a life because of its biographical nature. In fact, through this particular method we ask to the person to choose several documents, coming from various periods of her life course and important to her to describe the development of his/her professional identity. The person give us different documents that we classify as : - texts referring to the basic teacher training (personal writings, significant written productions, traces of practical trainings, journals or logs, etc.) - texts related to the time of entering in the new profession (lesson plans, pupils’ production significant of the way of teaching, etc.) - other significant type of documents (pictures, writings, etc.) The portfolio contains as well the transcription of a biographical interview, conducted by the researcher with the new teacher. It is important to underline here that the portfolio is not composed by the teacher but by the researcher. The teacher then valids the portfolio through a feedback that the researcher ask him during a second interview realised when the researcher hands back the portofolio to him/her. The validation of this methodological set is still a work in progress. We argue that the biographical portfolio is an interesting instrument for research because it provides important elements on the construction of professional identity allowing a deeper understanding of its evolution through time (Vanini, 2007). In this sense, we can consider this kind of portfolio as a post-biographical tool. Furthermore, it is supposed to be an instrument for accompanying reflection of new teachers at the beginning of their employment. Educational effects of a classical biographical work through narration are well known (Dominicé, 1990; Baudouin, 2003; Bertaux, 1997). We consider that, in addition to life-story interviews or biographical writings, biographical portofolio has a new heuristic validity, allowing to explore other type of documents concerning the subjects life, and conveying the construction of his/her professional identity. CMC and comprehensive interviews The data for the exploratory interviews on representations about knowledge and about marking experiences is coming principally from semi-structured interviews built on a comprehensive epistemological perspective. According to Schurmans (2006) a comprehensive posture allows to catch interactional dynamics through different levels: identity construction, common sense, symbolic structure and organisation. As Charmillot and Seferdjeli (2002) explain, human being has not to be considered exclusively as social determinated, he makes sense about the world and, by reproducing social facts, he contributes to reproduce determinism, too. This does not mean that we have to avoid mechanisms of social


reproduction but that we have to distinguish what is coming from those determinations and what is coming from individual and collective dynamics of construction of meaning. In this research we are particularly interested in individual construction of meaning; we are therefore using comprehensive interviews. According to Ruquoy (1995) it is one of the best instruments to outline representations and values. In fact, its open questions let the person free to tell what is important to her and allow the researcher to lead this person, if necessary, to her own construction of meaning. According to these preliminary elements, we propose the following methodological setting : • T1 : CMC and a comprehensive interview on marking experiences CMC is a task thought by Michel (1989) and proposed for professional counselling. We decided to use it in our research because it allows the person, through steps of classification and selection, to choose the experiences that are marking for her. o First, we ask the person to write on a paper the experiences that describe her whole life. o Second, we ask the person to classify these experiences into three groups (professional, personal and linked to training or school education), by writing them on coloured cards (one card for each experience, one colour for each group of experiences). o Third, we ask them to put those cards together producing a shape that satisfies them. o Fourth, we ask them to point out the experiences that are marking for them. This task is followed by an interview about the shape and the marking experiences. This will allow the person to finally find a lead characterising the whole marking experiences. This lead often corresponds to the pattern we outline from the analysis. • T2 : comprehensive interview about knowledge Some weeks later a second interview is proposed, this time about knowledge. We ask the person, through a list of open questions, to speak about what knowledge means to her. Usually, during this second interview, the person proposes spontaneously some links with the first interview, if it’s not the case, we ask them to find some leads. Analysing data In this paper we realized content analysis; coding and categories have been managed with Nvivo. We worked on six cases, three of each research, and are presenting here two of them, as significant and exemplar. Systemic connections model A part of the analysis will be reprensented by a model. This model can be considered as an anlysis of the systemic connections between events and dimensions of self, represented by numbers and letters. This scheme allows us to understand what is influencing the construction of professional identity, in terms of regularity, ruptures, supports, redefinitions. The numbers represent the sequence of experiences. Their increasing sequence shows the chronological place they have in the biographical interview; on the other hand, their place 1 on the model time line shows when they appear in the person’s chronological life. The letters in the model are referring to the identity declinations emerging from the content

We underline that the exact place in the scheme is not significatif, what is important is the element that the circle touches. This let us discuss, in the analysis, the connections between all the points.


analysis. The model has not to be read only in a linear but also in a systemic perspective. It highlights the process of chioce making concerning teacher’s professionalisation. This one is represented by three main nodes: the first professional choice and other elements regarding it in terms of influence; one or more major ruptures or events the teacher refers to confirm his choice; a period of assumption of the choice, and/or a reorientation towards new choices.

t x e N c i o h e c

First choice

Rupture or confirmati on of the choice

Assumption of the choice



po rt


SANDRINE The analysis of Sandrine’s data let emerge different important elements that are heuristic to the comprehension of identity. • Sequence of experiences

Sandrine exposes her professional project through these chronological steps: 1) From coaching a group in gymnastic activity to a internship in a creche She starts telling that they proposed to her to coach a group of children in gymnastic and she discovered that she likes it. Arriving to the end of her post-obligatory school, her professional choice is not clear to her. At that moment, “by pure chance” Sandrine hears of a internship in a bilingual (French – German) maternal school and decides to try because she needs to confirm her professional choice: she says that she wants to “see if [working with children] is really that” what she really wants to do. 2) A short period at University The internship of one year confirms partially her choice, but as she says “it isn’t yet exactly that”. She decides to enter at University to learn educational sciences. To justify this choice, she says she wanted to work with children but the High Pedagogical School2 [HPS] of her Canton did not have yet a good reputation. Very quickly she realised that the choice of University was a “disaster”, because the faculty she choosed was not responding at all to her desire to study pedagogy. This “false step” helps her to define her project more clearly: she was sure about what she did not want to do. That leads her, following her words, towards the third step.

Hautes Ecoles Pedagogiques (in french) is a vocational school of tertiary level. Swiss system is not unified in teacher training; according to the Canton, it is done whether in a High Pedagogical School or at University.


3) The choice of the HPS At that point, Sandrine finishes her University year and “better echoes comes from and about the HPS, so I said to myself yes, I’ll try after all”. But of course, although “committing in this training, I’ll let myself the door open, and I’ll see what happens afterwards.” The three years of training at HPS take very little place in her spontaneous narration, which is quite interesting to consider for us in the sens of “economy of the narration” (Baudouin, 2003). 4) The experience in Austria “And when I finished my training, I didn’t feel ready, I needed to take a certain distance from all I had learned at PHS”. This consideration leads Sandrine to tell us about her experience of teaching French in Austria to adults. 5) Beginning to teach… but with a parallel project : a Master at University According to her words, the experience in Austria has been quite fundamental. She felt ready after that experience to take a class, even if… there was still “a little thing lacking”! So she took the opportunity to work part-time, and to apply at the same time to University to obtain a Master. 6) Coaching children and personal changes After the first part of the narration, and without further solicitations, Sandrine searches more elements explaining the teacher she is today. The first experience in order of importance is to have coached children during ten years in gymnastic activities. The second one is the “enormous” change she felt in her ways of acting as a result of the teacher training that had a prior role in that change. 7) An inevitable detour: “my mother always discouraged me to be a teacher” At that moment of the interview Sandrine let us know that she felt a certain ”vocation” much earlier than what it seemed according to the previous elements. She seems to have needed to pass through a certain process making her feel she asserts herself by taking her decision without being influenced. The fact that her mother appears to have been herself a teacher, and has always made a very strong bad publicity to this profession, seems to play a role (as also confirmed by Sandrine herself during the second interview). Sandrine needs apparently to go by the roundabout way as she describes, to finally choose the same profession as her mother, despite her counsels against that choice. • Identity declinations

A) Choosing commitment and assuming responsability It is interesting to explore how Sandrine conceptualises commitment. In a writing realised during her first training year, she says that it is necessary for a person to commit on a voluntary bases: “If commitment isn’t spontaneously choosen, motivation risks not to be there and to dampen”. This lead us to explore the idea of choice, that seems to be very important to Sandrine. It seems to us that, for her, commitment could also be imposed, but with consequences on motivation. After choosing commitment, it seems, for Sandrine, that we have to assume responsibility doing things well. This responsibility concides for her with the entry in adult life. This comes, she says, from her education, and it appeared in her life before entering in professional training. B) Autonomy


The main value underlying Sandrine’s professional choice appears to be autonomy. This is visible in a large range of documents we analysed concerning her. For instance, in a reflection realised during her first year of training, she expressed her desire to be able to give their future pupils means to blossom, in order to reach autonomy in their learning and in their development. During her second year of training, when she has to explain her choice of specialisation (between pre-school and primary-school teacher) she tells about her experiences in practical training and explains how she felt much better working with children in school-age: “The children already acquired relative autonomy”. It is interesting to compare how Sandrine planned her activities during her training with the way she organises her class as a teacher now. During her internship she applied a model of a strict planning for herself, with a clear timetable and pre-defined teaching interventions letting low initiative to pupils. Now, in her class, she privileges autonomy through a weekly planning for pupils. Thanks to that, each child knows that he has a certain amount of activities to realise before the end of the week: “They do it when they want, they take their time at school, and they know that if they didn’t finish […] I’m not always behind them reminding them to do it”. She is satisfied to notice that, after some difficulties at the beginning, they are getting used to it and learning how to manage themselves. Furthermore, in comparison with her own experience as a school pupil, she appreciates that with new teaching methods “children have to raise their autonomy”. As we see, autonomy is very important to her as a teacher, but also as a student. In fact, she defines her experience in the HPS as “terrible” because of the control she felt on her as a student. These elements can be spotted in her biographical interview, too. In fact, she repeats many times that what she most likes in her job is “the idea that the children have to acquire autonomy […] still, today, in my class, by the way I make them work, I really want them to become… to acquire autonomy… that they are able to work without me being behind them to tell them what to do…”. C) Looking for new experiences to confirm her choice Sandrine seems to continually search confirmation of her professional choice: at different moments in her path she expresses the need to assert more clearly her role, or to do “something more” to be completely sure of it. That brings her to make a certain amount of turnarounks, until in the present, where she decides to do a Master at University, in adult training. D) A profile of teacher – student not yet defined As just previously said, Sandrine has choosen to add to her newly acquired status of a teacher, the role of a student. What appears to be quite interesting is that she prefers not to talk about this decision to her teacher colleagues. She says she wants to avoid questions about her intention, and especially avoid pressions. It is interesting to underline that she does exactly the same with her student colleagues at University. These elements let us suppose that Sandrine’s commitment in a new project has a strong social componement. We also see a link with her need for autonomy.


Sandrine’s model 1. C ) B )
First choice

… ( 6

2. 7.

D ) 4.

Nc Eh Xo Ti c e

Rupture or confirm.

Assertion of


A )

the choice

E )

------------------------------------Life LEGEND • Sequences of experience 1. From coaching to internship / 2.Short period at University / 3.HPS / 4.Austria / 5.Beginnin to teach+master / 6.Searching more determinant elements / 7.Inevitable detour: “my mother always discouraged me to be a teacher” • Identity declinations A) Commitment and responsibility / B) Autonomy / C) Experiences to confirm choices / D) Not yet defined profile teacher-student

Exploring the connections

We insert in this model Sandrine’s data to observe her specific path. It shows that something important and recurrent is happening for her in terms of rupture and process of confirming her professional choice. This can be understood through a large sequence of experiences in the central part of the model. Furthermore, the identity declination (D), concerning her role that appears not to be yet defined clearly during her first teaching year, seems to confirm that. It is also very interesting to observe in this model how the origins of her choice (sequences of experiences 1 and 6) are quite deffered in the chronology of her narration, but not in the chronology of her life time. In the first part of the interview, it seems that her choice has been influenced by chance, like having been asked to coach children in a gymnastic club and having, by pure chance, heard about an internship to do with children. At what appears to be a turning point in the interview (6) we discover that her dream was quite clear since her young age but it was unavoidable in her family context. It makes sense therefore that, having a new project, she chooses the fact to keep it secret in order to avoid pressure from significant figures (colleagues at work). Sandrine’s representations of her own experiences It is important to underline that Sandrine’s interview was not build on questions about knowledge but only on questions about experiences leading her to be a teacher. This means that it wont be possible to explore here, as we will do afterward in the second case, the correspondence between path reprensetations and knowledge representations, but we will try to find the pattern through only one discourse. As we pointed out before, Sandrine’s main theme seems to be autonomy. Exploring the interview from a representational point of view, we could consider autonomy not only as a


main theme but also as a reprensentation of her path, as a part of her pattern. In fact, this theme is used, as pointed out before, in different moments of the interview, to express different things she lives as a teacher and as a student. It is interesting to underline that this representation can be coupled with a second one, that we identify as the need of a frame. In fact, in her pursuit to feel “ready” to teach, she follows trainings and chooses to live different teaching experiences, what can be read as a search of autonomy but also a need to have a frame. We have the impression that the more she obtains certifications and she does experiences that should make her more autonomous, the less she feels autonomous. As if her ability to teach was depending predominantly on exterior elements (frame) and not on her capacity. This need of a frame is present in her way to program her activities. She uses objectifs, as any teacher does, but she underlines it several times. For instance, she started using them before becoming a teacher, when she was a trainer: “I said to myself that the objectif was that at the end of the year they should be able to do that and that”. And when activities are done without a frame as in the creche, she “found it long” and boring. It is interesting to observe the fonctionning of both representations in the discourse of Sandrine. In fact, looking at these first elements, autonomy and the need of a frame are not in opposition. For Sandrine, to be autonomous implies the previous existence of a frame. When the frame does not exist, for Sandrine children are left to their own’s devices. The need for a frame seems to be a condition, for Sandrine, to be autonomous (for instance: objectives are indispensable to build children’s autonomy). However this frame does not have to be to straight because in this case she will not feel free to be autonomous (for instance: the way she was treated at the HPS). It is interesting to underline that when she is near to be autonomous, she looks for a frame instead of being indipendent right to the end. In fact, she says that, during the HPS she wanted to go to another swiss city (in the german part of Switzerland) to follow some courses in another HPS. Her HPS supported her choice, but not the school that was supposed to host her. Instead of trying to go straight on with her decision, she dropped it down discouraged: “no, as a result, I didn’t do it…sell, as a result I didn’t do it and it is a big frustration for me”. It seems that the absence of a frame (support of the HPS that should host her) does not let her to live her autonomy. We understand that those elements are not enough to explain a pattern but they are the beginning of an hypothesis on a pattern. We should have more informations on Sandrine’s reprensentations to confirm this pattern and to analyse the functioning of it. Nevertheless this analysis gives us an enriching perspective of Sandrine’s path and lets us see that autonomy may not be the only theme.


MARIE Marie’s representation of her own experiences Through Marie’s first interview, it was possible to see some important elements to understand her pattern. The image that she proposed with coloured cards showed four temporalities: 1. her childhood: that is defined as calm and having only one marking experience : “the piano”. This activity is described as “a bubble” where she “could exist” by leaving the beaten path to play in the way she wanted. 2. the entry in adult age, with two marking experiences. The first one is “Francine” (her niece), who is perceived by Marie as a fatality. At the beginning, she has the impression that she “didn’t act” on it and that it was a relation she “didn’t choose”, things where made by their own. Nevertheless, during the discussion she admits having decided to invest herself emotionally in the relation to Francine. The second one, called “Laurent” (her boyfriend), is the last of her personnel experiences. In this case too, Marie underlines that she “decided” to invest herself emotionally in the relation. 3. when she was at school, period of her life where appears the emblematic marking experience of her path: “the language school”. This experience is described as the moment she made her choice deciding to quit school to spend some months in England and doing, once back home, what was determinated from the beginning: going to nurse school. In fact she will say that she has “always” wanted to be a nurse. 4. professional life : it is described as a period of “back and forth” where “everything was moving”. The marking experience is here the choice to “end the job at the hospital” to work for a homecare association, to find some stability and start a family. So she does not leave her nursing job, that has been determinated to be her job, but she chooses to live it in a different way, to exist in a different context. These four temporalities are relied between them by three elements: o having the feeling to choose and to act o having le feeling not to choose, not to act, when everything is determinated o having the feeling to exist We want to point out that those elements are some clues about her pattern and they will guide the rest of her interview on her personal path. • Choosing marking experiences: when life has a sense only as a whole For Marie it was quite hard to define and find experiences resuming her life, because « it is not possible » for her to choose between one experience (that turns out to be the emblematic marking experience) and the whole experiences that she lived. On the one hand, she finds her life “determined”. In fact, the emblematic marking experience revealed her what was already written for her: to be a nurse. No other experiences will be enough important to be held. On the other hand, even when asked to choose one person that seems to have had an important role in her life, Marie cannot choose one experience as representative of this relationship because the wholes experiences lived with her are important. Thus, we have the impression that Marie’s life has a sense only as a whole and that is not possible to choose among those events some that would be representatives, “tell our own life…it’s hyper general” • When I act or when I don’t act : between choice and determinism When we ask to Marie to find a lead between the whole marking experiences, she says spontaneously “the choice”. She specifies afterwards that the main thing for her is the feeling to have acted, which gives her “the feeling to exist among all these experiences”. In fact, this feeling of choosing and acting is present in other discourses about marking experiences: for 12

example about “the piano” or “the end of the hospital job”, as we will see afterwards. Therefore this feeling of acting and choosing showed by Marie is sometimes linked to an idea of determinism. We can see that preatty clearly when Marie explains the marking experience “language school” that she identifies as “the big thing” and the only one she chooses spontaneously during the interview. During the explication of this experience she says that it was “the first time that [she] decided what [she] wanted to do” and because of that she has the impression of a real turning moment. She decides to leave her high school because she was going very bad, “I needed to break something” she says. She leaves for England where she spends some months and, at her coming back, she starts the nurse school. What is interesting is that she has the impression to choose to leave the high school but she did not choose to do the nurse school that was already determinated: “I have the impression that my life was already written from the beginning. I’ve always knew what I wanted to do”. At the same level, when Marie explains the marking experience « Francine », there is the same nuance of determinism. At the beginning she says not having acted in this relationship, that it was imposed: “but that [Francine] is a bit in quotes because it is true that it is not something… I didn’t act on it, it’s… it’s an event that came”. But afterwards she says that finally she has decided to invest this relation with Francine, she made a choice: “Yes, I choosed somehow it was… to have this relation… because you have to keep a relation alive”. The last marking experience that we can take as an exemple is “the end of the hospital job”. In this case she chooses to leave hospital to work for a homecare association. It is an important professional choice for her, she “turns a corner” because it tooks her “such a long time to understand that [she] could work as a nurse on different working conditions”. She can choose to change her working environment but not the job (that, we remind, has been determinated from the beginning). In this way, she says, she will have some more stability to found a family. She underlines, explaining all this, that “it is bizarre” that she has to think about her job to be able to think about building a family instead of thinking about her family first and then thinking to quit the hospital as a consequence. This remark that she made extemporely is interesting, we have the impression that it is very important to her to feel the choice in the part of her life that is the most determinate in her opinion, her job. • When I choose I exist and I succeed At those elements, Marie adds the feeling to exist when she chooses, for instance, to play piano as she wants, instead of playing it as her mother wants her to. This is often relied to the feeling of succeeding, she says “I wanted to play like that and then I succeeded […] then to succeed, it’s the succeeding too, the piano I succeed weel, in England I succeeded, as a nurse I succeed”. These elements are recurrent in the speech of Marie, thus they seem to constitue her pattern. To confirme this hypothesis and to better understand the fonctionning of this pattern, we proceed to the analysis of the second interview. Marie’s representation of knowledge • Between choice and obligation to know: a sketch of a compromise For Marie, the importance to know is relied to the interest and the obligation to know. Interest for her is pretty relied to her job, hence the feeling of obligation. Marie finds interesting what is coming from her nurse job, she feels thus the obligation to know those professional contents. When the object does not concern her job, she does not seem to be interested. For her, a wise man, a « great person » is someone who « is interested in lots of things » independently from his job. 13

Learning for Marie is independent from having decided or not and to the interest that we have in knowledge, when there is a professional obligation you have to learn: “there are things that you don’t want to know, but you have to because… I see, in my job psychatrie doesn’t interest me ina special way but you.. you havt to know it because it’s a part of your job”. Obligation is not the only element important to Marie for who the choice is equally important to learn. First she speaks about what she learned from life and she underlines the importance to learn by our own means and experiences, in a certain way, choices. This freedom, that excludes all external intervention, seems to be for Marie the best way to learn to live and to evolve, even if it means to do some painful mistakes: “we are obliged to live by ourselves our…our..our…stories, but truly to evolve, I think too…we need to..to learn by ourselves things, to accumulate knowledge by ourselves […]”. Subsequently, she returns to formal learning at school and linked to professional knowledge saying that there are anyway some obligations that we cannot avoid. However, when the choice is present at school, learning can be done in better conditions. It is interesting to see here, how Marie tries to find a compromise between her vision of learning without restraints where choices are free, and the classical way to learn, in a formal and scholar context. This compromise consists in let some spaces of choice in scholar institutions to encourage learning: “I’m convinced that there are some subjects that are interesting for us but that we are not obliged to know in school, then there are some subjects we are obliged to learn, it’s part of general knowledge even if it doesn’t interest us. Whereas after, there are the professional schools where we can choose what we are going to do and it is more target. And I noticed that when we are interested in we learn much more easily and on remember it too” This search for a compromise is present when the interviewer asks Marie about the idea of a total choice. Marie explains first that nobody can really choose, and that for different reasons: “no, no, I think that ther is a lot of people who don’t have the choice”. Subsequently she says that there are anyway some people who do not want to do anything, they do not have any desire to do something, they are not motivated. This comes to say that they finally seem to have the choice to have a desire, to be motivated: “[the choice] depends on learning, on motivation to learn and on the possibility, desire and possibility. […] then there are people who don’t desire to do anything, too”. Lately, Marie explains once again the importance that she attaches to choice: “when we are teen-ager we are not really aware that we have to know and that it’s interesting, too […] but then where I find that it’s particularly important is when I choosed to go to the nurse school, I succeded very well and I learned very easily while when I whose at college I learned very hardly…so the notion of choice is linked to all that. I don’t know if you have ever seen Asiatic people speaking English but it’s…it’s…they repeat only, they told them to repeat only… they don’t really speak easily,[…] it’s not because we tell people to people that they have to learn that they learn. […][people] often have the choice to receive [knowledge] but not to live it” It’s interesting to see the projection that she does on her own path. She says that she has done “the choice to live the fact to be a nurse”. Whereas, this choice has been written since the beginning. So this notion of choice is coupled with the idea of determinism. The choice, from her telling, is up to her and she has to do it to let the determinism achieve itself. She has “always” known that she wanted to be a nurse, so that she did not even know why: “once (…) I had to write down why I wanted to be a nurse and it was hyper hard” It is interesting to underline that this compromise does not appear when the interviewer asks her to go into details about the determinism in her life. First she denies the possibility of an innate determinism in her case and she looks for explications linked to her familial history (her eldest sister wanted to be a nurse too, but she failed). Finally she is not satisfied by this explication, she does not adopt this representation and she affirms that nobody suggested this


job. In this way she belives that she is the owner of the choice. As if, to explain general situations, the compromise between a total choice and a total determinism would be necessary to make sense. While, to explain personal situation, this compromise is not necessary to make sense on her personal story. “I really don’t think that we are planned, really not. Because my sister has always wanted too, she spend one year and then she finally learned literature, because she didn’t bear it…it’s funny…maybe it’s come from my sister who wanted to be a nurse […] no because in my family nobody is in a medical field…I didn’t live hospital experiences…they didn’t tell me about nurse experiences, they didn’t say you will be that…on the contraire! […] So I don’t thing that someone suggest me to do that” This analysis shows that the pattern of Marie seems to be choice, free acting vs constraint, determinism, and that those elements have an important influence on her way to represent her professional path and her whole life. It is important to notice that the way she reprensents her experiences and the way she talks about knowledge let us see a desire to negotiate a third way, less extreme, like a compromise. This compromise does not seem to be possible when she is talking about her own life where both extremes have to be present to makes sense on her life. This pattern lets her feel to exist and to succeed. Marie’s model


A )

Rupture or confirmati on of choice assumption of choice Next choice


First choice

( 2

A )

B )



LEGEND • Sequences of experience 1.Traced life / 2. England / 3. Nursing school / 4. Actual change • Identity declinations A) Luck to know what to do / B) To choose and to live ones choices

Sequence of experiences To this rich analysis of Marie’s data, we add some complementary elements. Through the search of her identity declinations and her sequence of experiences as related during the interview, we let emerge the systemic connections they compose.


1. A traced life: “I always knew what I wanted to become…” This is the first big step in Marie’s narration, it is quite clear even through her difficulty to answer to the demand of the interviewer. Choosing significant experiences seems not to make sens in her first representation of her life as beeing traced. 2. Significant event during high school: living in England This event is caracterized by herself as significant. She calls it “a kind of accident in my path”. After having experienced some difficulties at school, she leaves Switzerland for England: “This made me discover what I wanted and who I was”. Family seems to be considered as a support in our adoption of what Martuccelli (2002) defines supports: the means the individual gives himself to become able to stand on his own legs. Marie’s mention of her older sister as the one opening the path of the profession to her, and of her mother from whom’s decisions she needs to emancipate, gives us some clues for that interpretation. 3. Nursing school Marie’s choice to become a nurse is concretized by her decision to start nurse training. This choice is, as she wants to underline, done against her mother’s will who wanted her to enter University. 4. Actual professional change Marie is experiencing a turning point between the professional and the personal life at the very same time her interview takes place. She expresses surprise about the fact that those two dimensions in her life are connected in that way. Identity declinations (A) The luck to know from the beginning what to do This first element contributing to her identity declination already appears in the above analysis. We here consider it to be a sign of what she considers beeing a specificity of herself as an individual. « In my case », she says, it was clear from the beginning what to do professionaly. This seems to us to be undestandable as an identity strategy : to fill a gap between what she considers for herself and a « general belief » about life and determinism, as explained before. (B) Values: to choose and to live one’s choice Concerning the values underling Marie’s choices, we can only confirm the first analysis: for Marie it appears to be absolutely important to make her own choice. This is why this important element is firmly connected with what we represented with pink circle number 2 in the model: the significant experience of living in England. What is extremely interesting in Marie’s case is that the second identity declination (B) appears to be in opposition to this first one (A). We represented this in the model as a clash between A and B. We do not consider those aspects of identity as being in contradiction; we refer to them as a contribution to the complexity of identity. Through these first and not exhaustive analysis, we can confirm the pattern. Furthermore, it is interesting to underline that in Marie’s model shows that the sequence of experiences is equivalent to an identity declination. That let us confirm, once more, that the way we define our experiences match with the way we decline our identity. This can be identified as a


pattern. Openings Throught this paper we showed that there are some complementarities between the two methods. Their jointed use shows new facets of construction of identity and, at the same time, of knowledge reprensentations. This is intended not only concerning the content analysis, but also and especially concerning the conceptualisation of the two approaches. Vanini De Carlo’s model is an important contribution to show the connections between the whole elements cited by the person. It allows to deepen the construction of the representation and to understand influences of each element composing it. On the other hand, it gives important informations about the links existing between events exposed and the cycles they create. This makes appear a system of sequences clarifying representations and identity construction through a graphical model. Mornata’s contribution is heuristic concerning the pattern, often composed of an interaction between representations that can be complementary or in tension. In our researches the pattern reveals the dialectic between past experiences and how the person represents herself at the present time. This means to us that the pattern is an integrator of the various elements contributing to indentity construction and so, to professionalisation. In further perspectives, to exploit the whole potential of the crossed methodology, appears as an evidence the necessity to accomplish both research processes for both type of corpus.


References Baillauquès, S. (1999). Ce que l’entrée dans la carrière révèle du rapport des enseignants à la formation : éléments d’une problématique de professionnalisation. In Hetu J.C., Lavoie M., Baillauques S. (Ed.) Jeunes enseignants et insertion professionnelle : un processus de socialisation ? De professionnalisation ? De transformation ? Paris : De Boeck Université. Baudouin, J-M. (2003). De l’épreuve autobiographique. Thèse de Doctorat. Genève : FPSE. Beillerot, J. (1996). Savoir former. Le rapport au savoir dans les démarches d’apprentissage. Paris : Sciences humaines-Demos. Beillerot, J., Blanchard-Laville, C., Mosconi, N. (Ed.). (2000). Formes et formations du rapport au savoir. Pars : L’Harmattan. Berger, P. & Luckmann, T. (2003). La construction sociale de la réalité. Paris : Armand Colin. (Original publié 1968). Bertaux D. (1997). Les récits de vie : Perspective ethnosociologique. Paris : Nathan. Collection sociologie 128. Camilleri, C., Kasterszein, J., Lipianski, E.-M., Malewska-Peyre, H., Taboada-Leonetti, I. & Vasquez, A. (1990). Les stratégies identitaires. Paris : Puf. Charlot B. (1997). Du Rapport au Savoir. Éléments pour une théorie. Paris : Anthropos. Charlot, Bautier & Rochex, 2000 Charlot, B., Bautier, E., Rochex, J-Y. (2000). Ecole et savoir dans les banlieues…et ailleurs. Paris : Bordas pédagogie. Charmillot, M. & Seferdjeli, L (2002). Démarches compréhensives : la place du terrain dans la construction de l’objet. In F. Leutenegger & M. Saada-Robert. (Ed.), Expliquer et comprendre en sciences de l’éducation. Bruexelles : Raisons Educatives, De Boeck. Dominicé, P. (1990) L’histoire de vie comme processus de formation. Paris : L’Harmattan. Dubar, C. & Tripier, P. (2005). Sociologie des professions. Paris : Armand Colin Dubet, F. (1994). Sociologie de l’expérience. Paris : Seuil. Dubet, F. & Martuccelli, D. (1998, juin). Sociologie de l’expérience scolaire. L’orientation scolaire et professionnelle, 27(2), 169-187. Fabbri, D. & Formenti, L. (1991). Carte d’identità. Verso una psicologia culturale dell’individuo. Milano : Franco Angeli. Gravé, P. (2002). Formateurs et identités. Paris : PUF. Kaddouri, M. (2005). Professionnalisation et dynamiques identitaires. In M. Sorel & R. Wittorski, (Ed.). La professionnalisation en actes et en questions. Paris : L’Harmattan. Kaddouri, M. (2006). Dynamiques identitaires et rapports à la formation. In J.-M. Barbier, E. Bourgeois, G. De Villers, M. Kaddouri, (Ed.). Constructions identitaires et mobilisation des sujets en formation. Paris : L’Harmattan. Lahire, B. (2001). L’homme pluriel, les ressorts de l’action. Paris : Hachette. Lang, V. (1999). La professionnalisation des enseignants : sens et enjeux d'une politique institutionnelle. Paris : PUF Lisimberti, C. (2006) L’identità professionale come progetto. Una ricerca su insegnanti e formazione. Milano: Vitaepensiero Malet, R. (1998). L’identité en formation : phénoménologie du devenir enseignant. Paris : L’Harmattan. Marc, E. (2004) La construction identitaire de l’individu. In J.-C. Ruano-Borbalan (coord.) Identité(s). L’individu, le groupe, la société (pp. 33-39). Auxerre : Éd. Sciences Humaines. Mariani, A.M. (1996). L’insegnante. In C. Scurati (a cura di). Volti dell’educazione (pp. 79-81). Brescia : La Nuova Scuola. Martuccelli, D. (2007). Forgé par l’épreuve. Paris: Armand Colin.


Michel, S. (1989). Peut-on gérer les motivations ? Paris : PUF. Mornata, C. (2008). Le rapport au savoir, quand l’expérience prend sens. In S. Enlart (Ed.). Formation: les dispositifs en question. Paris: Editions Liaisons. Ruano-Borbalan, J.-C. (2004). Introduction générale : la construction de l’identité. In J.-C. RuanoBorbalan (coord.) Identité(s). L’individu, le groupe, la société. Auxerre : Éd. Sciences Humaines. Ruquoy, D. (1995). Situation d’entretien et stratégie de l’interviewer. In L., Albarello, F., Digneffe, JP., Hiernaux, C., Maroy, D., Ruquoy, P., de Saint-Georges. Pratiques et méthodes de recherches en sciences sociales. Paris : Armand Colin. Schurmans, M.-N. (2006). Expliquer, interpréter, comprendre. Le paysage épistémologique des sciences sociales. Genève : Carnets des sciences de l’éducation. Seferdjeli, L. (2005). La construction d’une posture alternative en préalable à l’enquête sur les représentations : le rapport théorie-pratique comme objet problématique. Thèse de doctorat en Sciences de l’éducation, Université de Genève. Vallerand, A.C. & Martineau, S. (2007) Recension des écrits sur le portfolio et le e-portfolio, en tant qu’outils pouvant favoriser l’insertion professionnelle en enseignement. Laboratoire d’analyse de l’insertion professionnelle en enseignement (LADIPE). Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Vanini, K. (2007). Identités en formation: l’entrée en je(u). Des matériaux biographiques multiples dans l’analyse des constructions identitaires. Le cas des enseignants débutants. In Le biographique, la réflexivité et les temporalités. Colloque. Tours: Université FrançoisRabelais (non publié).


Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.