Practitioner-Faculty Dialectic: Balancing Professional Identities in Adult Education

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Abstract

Professional identities are socially produced and maintained in communities of practice. Becoming a faculty member often requires dual participation in at least two broad communities of practice—vocational and academic. While negotiating membership in higher education, faculty members generally maintain some level of expertise and credibility in their disciplines. This study explores this dialectic from the vantage point of adult education. Interviews with eight adult education faculty members revealed three dimensions of the practitioner-academic identity dialectic: Intellectual Seduction, Inside-Out, and Silencing the Practitioner Voice. These dimensions coalesce into a core theme: Balancing Act. The findings illustrate a continuous tension between professional identities as adult education practitioner and academic. Further, they imply social and cultural scripting of faculty identity and professional experience in relation to an ethos of adult education practice.

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