Being a geographer:
Towards an understanding of primary teachers' constructs of subject-specific identity

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Primary teachers working in English schools are usually responsible for teaching all of the pupils in their class all curriculum subjects. Therefore, it is likely that the relationship that an individual teacher has with each of these subjects will be significant in relation to their practice and, as a result, is worthy of investigation. This research uses geography as a lens to focus on the relationship that a group of primary teachers has with one area of the primary curriculum. The research explores each of the participant’s unique geographical stories and applies a critical analysis to the relationship between the individual’s subject-specific identity and their overall identity as primary teachers.
The participants in the research openly express an enthusiasm for geography and were purposively selected. The researcher was a participant. Phenomenology was employed as a research approach and data was collected over the course of one academic year using semi-structured interviews. The research findings, which are presented in a series of experiential descriptions and a play script, provide an insight into the lived experience of geography that each of the participants has and how this affects these individuals’ lifeworlds.The findings indicate that the teachers surveyed have a fused identity, whereby the teachers consider their subject-specific and generic primary pedagogy to be complementary facets that impact on their identity as teachers and not mutually exclusive. It is recommended that this concept of a fused identity is presented to both trainee and experienced teachers in order to facilitate reflection on individual primary teachers’ subject-identity with a view to informing teachers’ personal professional development and classroom practice. The outcomes of this research contribute to the literature available on teachers’ subject identity. The findings add to the body of existing knowledge in geography education and fill a specific gap in relation to research conducted with teachers of geography working in English primary schools.
Date of Award6 Mar 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorStephanie Spencer (Supervisor), Vasiliki Tzibazi (Supervisor) & Simon Catling (Supervisor)


  • primary teachers
  • subject identity
  • geography
  • phenomenology
  • fused identity

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