From content expert to novice instructor: the professional transitions and personal transformations of Maritime community college instructors

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University of New Brunswick


This qualitative research examined perspective shifts experienced by community college instructors at three Maritime provincial colleges as they made the transition from content experts to professional instructors. Twelve instructor-participants were interviewed regarding the first few years of their early experiences as instructors, including before and after their respective compulsory workplace professional development programs. The project is ontological in nature, examining shifts in self-understanding as professional transitions led to personal transformations. The research methodology design follows a bricolage combining elements of both Narrative Inquiry and Thematic Analysis (NITA) to determine both foundational and collective recurrent themes within the data, analyzed and discussed according to adult learning and development theories, and then re-storied back into individual participant accounts. Research findings indicate professional transitions and personal transformations include areas of identity development, including faculty development practices; multi-level adult learning and development areas critical to the process, including: cohort and common-purpose learning groups, mentoring, issues of identity duality, transformative learning, impostor syndrome, and critical reflective practice; the importance of recognizing new instructors as adult learners; and the critical role of emotion in the transformational identity development process. Key words: Adult learning and development, professional development, identity duality, faculty development, transformative and transformational learning theories, reflective practice, lifelong learning, identity development, new employees as adult learners, the role of emotion in learning.