Rationale and Reality: The Personal and Professional Capital of Masters Level Study for Teachers

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

87 Downloads (Pure)


This study seeks to explore the rationale for Masters level study as part of teacher training in England, the reality as experienced by those students and their perceptions of the value of Masters level to their personal and professional development as early career teachers.

Teacher education has ‘consistently been a significant site of social and political struggle’ (Menter, 2010) including the aspiration to become a postgraduate teaching profession, of Masters level in initial teacher education and top-up programmes for qualified teachers. Yet, development of postgraduate provision has been haphazard and reactionary, leaving the University provider in the sector with the burden of promoting its importance and defending its relevance. In a sector where training of teachers has moved from higher education to schools led, there has become a palpable separation between theory and practice (Hargreaves and Fullen, 2012). This research pursues the value of the Masters level elements in teacher education and also to the development of a teacher’s own personal and professional attributes.

This qualitative study uses a constructivist grounded theory (CGT) methodology from a practitioner researcher perspective, in order to explore the student teachers perception and experience to develop a substantive theory outlining the value and use they make of their Masters level study. An early literature review, conducted to sensitise and inform the interview schedule was used within semi-structured interviews, undertaken with fifteen participants. Participants were purposively and then theoretically sampled to support the emerging theory until saturation of categories was achieved. Data was analysed using the CGT process outlined by Charmaz (2014).

Core categories emerged describing qualities and characteristics that students earned, achieved and received while studying at Masters level that included professional capital (combined human, social and decisional capital) and personal capital. In addition, participants described the optimal educational environment for the promotion of these capitals; that of constructivist forms of teaching, learning and assessment (TLA). Furthermore, participants stated that the value and qualities of a challenging learning journey were enhanced when provided by an overall structure of transformative programme design.

In the final theoretical rendering of the data, a conceptual model of programme design was formed, demonstrating the importance of transformative programme design, delivered through constructivist modes of TLA. Approaches found to provide a robust start to a teacher’s career, offer longevity in the field, promote effective and reflective teaching and critical but co-operative teachers.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • Duffy, Richelle, Supervisor
Award date30 Jun 2017
Publication statusSubmitted - Jun 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Rationale and Reality: The Personal and Professional Capital of Masters Level Study for Teachers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this