The second apprenticeship : an exploratory mixed methods study of the transition from tradesperson to teacher
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Within educational research, postsecondary vocational education receives relatively little attention; within this sector, trades education is studied even less frequently. This research sought to address this gap through exploring the transition of master tradespeople who have completed a first apprenticeship in their trade and who then undertake a second apprenticeship as trades teachers. The research question explored: the motivation for career change; pre-existing competencies brought to the role of teaching; the methods used to learn to teach; negotiation of a new vocational identity; and sources of satisfaction in the teaching role. Using a constructivist paradigm, this qualitative-dominant crossover sequential mixed methods study surveyed trades teachers via a newly created instrument, distributed electronically to three Western Canadian polytechnic institutions. In addition to analysis of the full data set, the survey data were divided by respondents’ years of teaching to look for possible changes with experience. A summary was shared with survey participants who were willing to participate in follow-up discussions. Interpretation panel meetings were held with these volunteers; discussions were transcribed and analyzed for themes, comparing the results of this qualitative data set to that of the quantitative survey results. As the qualitative and quantitative data were combined, the following key insights about this group emerged. Tradespeople moving to trades teaching are motivated primarily by two factors. They take pride in their trade and want to see the craft continue through teaching and mentoring apprentices on a full-time basis. Secondly, they seek an improved work-life balance through teaching and will accept lower remuneration as a teacher in order to have more time for family and life outside of work. Tradespeople bring a strong sense of having been a teacher, as an aspect of being a journeyperson, to the role of trades teacher. They are self-reflective and wish to improve as teachers. They rate themselves as stronger in the general abilities, attitudes and traits associated with teaching than in pedagogical knowledge and skills competencies, but learn in these areas to gain confidence in their overall teaching competency over time. In learning to be a teacher, trades teachers prefer to replicate the informal learning methods of the apprenticeship model: mentorship, discussions, self-study, and trial and error. They reject overly-formal or academic training as impractical, not helpful toward improving teaching, and an expression of the lower status accorded to trades teaching within higher education. The transition from tradesperson to trades teacher is not a distinct change or linear process. It is an evolution, growing from the role of teacher imbedded within journeyperson, and subsuming the trades knowledge gained through apprenticeship and practice, to become a new identity that makes one more than a teacher, more than a tradesperson, but rather a teacher of the trade. Trades teachers are satisfied with their work. They find satisfaction primarily through interactions with students and through relationships with colleagues. Dissatisfaction comes from time constraints and from a sense of not being valued within the institution.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeNoonan, Warren; Prytula, Michelle; Renihan, Patrick; Wotherspoon, Terry
Copyright DateMarch 2015