About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 216-225
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.0104

Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain

“ACCOUNTING IS MY FAVOURITE MODULE IN UNIVERSITY, BUT IS BEING AN ACCOUNTANT REALLY FOR ME? I SUPPOSE I'LL FIND OUT”: STUDENTS' DEVELOPING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY DURING WORK PLACEMENT

S. Dempsey1, M. Healy2, C. Linehan2

1Cork Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
2University College Cork (IRELAND)
This qualitative study explores the influence of work placement on third-level students' sense of development of professional identity (PI) as accountants. PI refers to the assemblage of attributes, beliefs, values, motives, and experiences of an individual in a professional role (Ibarra, 1999). There is agreement in both academic and professional literature that the development of PI occurs in the interaction of the individual agent with the social context of professional practice. While the development of PI of accounting graduates in trainee positions has been explored (Anderson-Gough, 1998; Grey, 1998; Hamilton, 2013), making sense of the development of PI while still in university has been underexplored.

Growing popularity of work placement as part of third-level degree programmes suggests that it has an inherent intrinsic value. The extant literature has focused on such aspects as building skills and competences that cannot be developed in university and improving academic performance on return to university. Little attention has been paid to work placement as a site for sense-making around PI formation. This study explores work placement as an opportunity to transition between the communities of university and work, and the ways in which it influences the shaping of developing PI.

Landscape of practice is the lens used to explore what students are becoming as they transition between the domains of education and work. This study explores the influence of the interrelated constructs of community, practice, meaning and learning on the development of professional identity. Forty third-level students were interviewed before, during and after placement to understand their experience of development of PI in association with working in accounting roles. An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach was taken to data analysis.
 
The findings demonstrate that, rather than a unitary formulation of PI, the work placement experience constitutes varying journeys towards possible future selves. For some, the work placement journey enables a clear trajectory across a landscape of practice as advocated by Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner (2015); validating their movement along a pathway to an evolving identity as an accountant. For others, the placement experience is a much more nuanced journey through accounting, re-imagining multiple possible future selves.

As well as making a valuable contribution to the existing PI literature, the conclusions of this study are of relevance and practical impact to those concerned with higher education, work placement and professional development.

References:
[1] Anderson-Gough, F., Grey, C., & Robson, K. (1998), Making up accountants: The organizational and professional socialization of trainee chartered accountants. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.
[2] Hamilton, S. E. (2013), Exploring professional identity: The perceptions of chartered accountant students. British Accounting Review, 45(1): 37-49.
[3] Grey, C. (1998), On being a professional in a “Big Six” firm, Accounting Organizations and Society, 23: 579-587.
Ibarra, H. (1999), Provisional selves: Experimenting with image and identity in professional adaptation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(4): 764-791.
[4] Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015), Learning in a Landscape of Practice: Boundaries, identity and knowledgeability in practice-based learning: London and New York: Routledge.
@InProceedings{DEMPSEY2017ACC,
author = {Dempsey, S. and Healy, M. and Linehan, C.},
title = {“ACCOUNTING IS MY FAVOURITE MODULE IN UNIVERSITY, BUT IS BEING AN ACCOUNTANT REALLY FOR ME? I SUPPOSE I'LL FIND OUT”: STUDENTS' DEVELOPING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY DURING WORK PLACEMENT},
series = {10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-6957-7},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2017.0104},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2017.0104},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {216-225}}
TY - CONF
AU - S. Dempsey AU - M. Healy AU - C. Linehan
TI - “ACCOUNTING IS MY FAVOURITE MODULE IN UNIVERSITY, BUT IS BEING AN ACCOUNTANT REALLY FOR ME? I SUPPOSE I'LL FIND OUT”: STUDENTS' DEVELOPING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY DURING WORK PLACEMENT
SN - 978-84-697-6957-7/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2017.0104
PY - 2017
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2017
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2017 Proceedings
SP - 216
EP - 225
ER -
S. Dempsey, M. Healy, C. Linehan (2017) “ACCOUNTING IS MY FAVOURITE MODULE IN UNIVERSITY, BUT IS BEING AN ACCOUNTANT REALLY FOR ME? I SUPPOSE I'LL FIND OUT”: STUDENTS' DEVELOPING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY DURING WORK PLACEMENT, ICERI2017 Proceedings, pp. 216-225.
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