About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6704-6710
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain


B. Mathison

Mount Royal University (CANADA)
This project rests within the Child Studies degree programme at Mount Royal University, a western Canadian institution located in Calgary, Alberta, and pertains specifically to the development of a work/practitioner identity in students in the Child Studies programme. As students transition from their role as learners in Child Studies to their role as employees in the myriad job possibilities located within the human services sector, it is not clearly known how – or whether – they are able to articulate who they are as students (beyond the generic “Child Studies student”) and who they are ‘becoming’ as practitioners. While it may be too much to expect for any student in any programme to have a solid understanding of what it means to have a work ‘identity’, in the case of Child Studies, it is even more complicated due to the lack of a clearly defined title – i.e., they are not teachers, nurses, solicitors, social workers (etc.); rather they might be directors, youth workers, consultants, recreation leaders, etc.

The first phase of this study took place in 2012 within a first semester, first year introductory course entitled, “Professional Preparation”. In its original form, this course focused primarily on the development of concrete skills (e.g., resume development, professional writing standards, compilation of a professional portfolio, APA formatting, etc.). While many of these elements remained intact, the course was redesigned and broadened to include opportunities for conversations and assignments on a more conceptual level with the intent of enhancing their [current] student experience and [future] work experience. As theirs is a field that requires deep levels of self awareness and strong commitment to process alongside ‘product’, it is very important that they emerge with at least a basic understanding of what it means to be a Child Studies graduate. Thus, part of the aim of this course was to provide an opening for students to explore – in a fundamental way – the importance of what is inscribed at the entrance to the Oracle at Delphi: "gnothi se auton" (know thyself).

Examined within the lens of a “liminal space”, the primary research question rested upon several foundational questions:
• What is student experience of coming to rest (or perhaps restlessness) within a liminal space?
• What should we, as faculty, know about the students we teach, guide, and mentor as they wend their way and find their path through this programme?
• How might faculty enhance student learning, understanding, and experience as they stand on the precipice of becoming “altered” in terms of student/practitioner identity?

Amongst the assignments related to understanding and articulating identity were: a “life map” charting their trajectory to Child Studies; a photo essay; an explication of their understanding of habits of the mind, heart, and hand (adapted from Lee S. Shluman of the Carnegie Foundation, 2005); and an ongoing reflective journal.

It is expected that Phase II of this project – which will involve focus group conversations with the participants drawn from those in Phase I – will be completed in the spring of 2016, at which time they will be graduating with a degree in Child Studies.
author = {Mathison, B.},
series = {7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN15 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-606-8243-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {6704-6710}}
AU - B. Mathison
SN - 978-84-606-8243-1/2340-1117
PY - 2015
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2015
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN15 Proceedings
SP - 6704
EP - 6710
ER -
B. Mathison (2015) SHIFTING IDENTITIES: FROM STUDENT TO PRACTITIONER, EDULEARN15 Proceedings, pp. 6704-6710.