Becoming a Professional Educator: University based lecturers in teacher and nurse education

UPDATE: New 3rd edition of ‘Becoming a Teacher Educator’ published by Advance HE March 2021… available here

BLOG POST: Being a Subversive Teacher Educator is a shout out to all teacher educators – find it on the BERA Blog at:

‘Becoming a Teacher Educator’ has been an ongoing research and development project over the last twenty years. An initial research paper ‘Rose-Tinted Reflection’ (Boyd, 2002) concluded with a challenging claim: ‘This study… raises some doubts about the value of ITE partnership for the school.’ My view is that we should raise the expectations of teachers invovled in teacher education so that they become ‘research literate’ and I would argue that much stronger and better resourced university-schools partnerships are needed to support that ambition.

A study of university-based teacher educators focused on their seeking of ‘credibility’. These colleagues were under pressure to be credible as ‘school teachers’ when they should have been concentrating on being credible as academics (Boyd & Harris, 2010). This cuts to the issue in England where confused policy makers, unaware of their own position of privilege and arrogant about the contribution of ‘experts’, have relied on their personal educational experiences (as learners) and think that being a great teacher is a god-given natural trait that can be learned simply by observing and copying experienced colleagues. There is a tension in a university-schools partnership around the value placed on public knowledge (published theory, research) and the practical wisdom of expert teachers, but that tension can be a driver for expansive learning. We analysed similar but distinctive data on new lecturers in Nursing where professional values of controlling risk and of caring appear to strongly influence academic identity and pedagogy (Boyd & Lawley, 2009).

A focus for all of this work is that academic induction in universities has been weak and that higher education needs to develop more expansive workplace learning environments, but with individual autonomy to choose pathways and so avoid overload (Boyd, 2010; Boyd, Smith & Beyatzas, 2015). A funded national survey-based study of lecturers in nursing and allied health professions (Boyd, Smith, Lee & McDonald, 2009) produced three subsequent research journal papers focused on academic identity and work (Smith & Boyd, 2012; Boyd, Smith & Beyatzas, 2015; Boyd & Smith, 2016). Caroline Smith and I entitled our 2016 paper ‘The Contemporary Academic’ with the intention to be provocative, we argued that lecturers in nursing were juggling teaching, research AND consultancy in their boundary-crossing roles.

Meanwhile, to address in a practical way the issue of weak academic induction in universities, with my colleagues Jean Murray and Kim Harris we were running academic induction workshops for teacher educators. To accompany the workshops we published the ‘Becoming a Teacher Educator’ guidelines, the 3rd edition were published by Advance HE (Boyd, Murray & White, 2021). Over the last ten years or so we have provided some academic induction for about 40% of newly appointed university-based teacher educators in the UK. In recent years the annual ‘Becoming a Teacher Educator’ workshops become an online course hosted by the Teacher Education Advancement Network (TEAN). As policy in England fragmented teacher education provision into multiple small providers, with my colleague Jon Tibke we investigated his experience as a ‘school-based’ teacher educator and, perhaps not surprisingly, found evidence of excellence but that was difficult to maintain due to other priorities in the setting (Boyd & Tibke, 2012). With colleagues Simon Allen and Paolo Reale we investigated the experiences of teacher educators based in college settings who teach higher education programmes in workplace settings that do not generally support their professional learning through advanced scholarship (Boyd, Allen & Reale, 2010).

A partnership with the University of Porto provided insight to European approaches to professional education, which generally value theory and research much more highly than in England. Working with my colleague Prof. Amelia Lopes supported my learning (Lopes, Boyd, Andrew & Pereira, 2014) and involved me in co-supervision of a doctoral student at the University of Porto. With three published papers along the way, Doctora Rita Sousa successfully completed her thesis and viva in February 2021. Collaborating with colleagues at University of Porto helped us to see beyond the work of colleagues focused on traditional UK universities around the ‘research-teaching (RT) nexus’ to propose a wider view of the ‘research-teaching knowledge exchange (RTKE) nexus’ (Boyd & Smith, 2016).

I am pleased as co-author to have a new research journal paper on nurse lecturer identity and pedagogy in press with my former research student and colleague Sue Harness (Harness & Boyd, 2021). This study is important because it follows ten lecturers in nursing from ten different UK universities, to investigate their academic identities and then, using video analysis, reveal how they deploy those identities within the hidden world of the university tutorial. Making this link between identities and pedagogy is a significant contribution.


Boyd, P., Murray, J. & White, E. (2021) Becoming a Teacher Educator: Guidelines for academic induction. Advance HE. Available open access.

Harness, S. & Boyd, P. (2021) Academic identities and their deployment within tutorials (2021) International Journal of Educational Research 108: 101777.

Boyd, P. & Smith, C. (2016) The Contemporary Academic: orientation towards research and researcher identity of higher education lecturers in the health professions. Studies in Higher Education, 41 (4), 678-695.

Boyd, P., Smith, C. & Beyaztas, D. (2015) Hyper-Expansive Academic Workplaces: the case of UK lecturers in Nursing and Midwifery. International Journal for Academic Development,20 (1), 18-32.

Lopes, A., Boyd, P., Andrew, N. & Pereira, F. (2014) The research-teaching nexus in nurse and teacher education: contributions of an ecological approach to academic identities in professional fields. Higher Education, 68 (2), 167-183.

Boyd, P. (2013) Professional Education: resolving tensions around the value of different types of knowledge in teacher and nurse education. In Amelia Lopes (Ed.) Formação inicial de professores e de enfermeiros: identidades e ambientes / Initial education of teachers and nurses: identities and environments. Lisboa: Mais Leituras.

Boyd, P. & Tibke, J. (2012) Being a school-based teacher educator: developing pedagogy and identity in facilitating work-based higher education in a professional field. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 6 (2), 41-57. Available at

Smith, C. & Boyd, P. (2012) Becoming an Academic: The reconstruction of identity by recently appointed lecturers in Nursing, Midwifery and the Allied Health Professions. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49 (1), 63-72.

Boyd, P., Harris, K. & Murray, J. (2011)  Becoming a Teacher Educator: Guidelines for induction (2nd Ed.).  ESCalate, Higher Education Academy: Bristol. Available at   (the 1st edition of this publication won the Sage / BERA prize for Practitioner Research 2009).

Boyd, P., Allan, S. and Reale, P. (2010) ‘Being a Teacher Educator: tensions in the workplace environment of lecturers in teacher education in further education colleges’. BERA conference, University of Warwick, Warwick, 1-4 September. Available at: (Accessed: 28 January 2021).

Boyd, P. (2010) Academic induction for professional educators: supporting the workplace learning of newly appointed lecturers in teacher and nurse education. International Journal for Academic Development 15 (2), 155-165.

Boyd, P. & Harris, K. (2010) Becoming a university lecturer in teacher education: expert school teachers reconstructing their pedagogy and identity.  Professional Development in Education 36 (1-2), 9-24.

Boyd, P. & Lawley, L. (2009)  Becoming a Lecturer in Nurse Education: The work-place learning of clinical experts as newcomers. Learning in Health and Social Care 8(4), 292-300.

Boyd, P., Smith, C., Lee, S., MacDonald, I. (2009) Becoming a Health Profession Educator in Higher Education: The experiences of recently-appointed lecturers in Nursing, Midwifery and the Allied Health Professions.  Health Science and Practice Subject Centre, Higher Education Academy. (Funding from the Health Science and Practice subject centre of the HE Academy 12K).

Boyd, P. (2002) Rose-tinted reflection: The benefits for teachers of initial teacher education in secondary schools. Professional Development in Education 28(2): 203-218.

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