“Because I am a Mother, I am a better practitioner”: An unexpected theme arising from the analysis of pilot study

Mikuska, E. (2014) “Because I am a Mother, I am a better practitioner”: An unexpected theme arising from the analysis of pilot study. In: Society for Research into Higher Education, 9-10 December, Newport.

[thumbnail of Poster Presentation - SRHE 2014.pptx] Text
Poster Presentation - SRHE 2014.pptx
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (537kB)


This presentation draws on my pilot study which was part of the EdD course I am currently undertaking. As part of the programme, I was asked to carry out a pilot study to “try out” the ideas and theoretical framework I proposed to apply in my main research. The objectives of the pilot study were informed by my experience teaching and assessing students in the early years-related degree programmes, mainly female mature students who lacked confidence in their academic ability but excelled at work. While I focused on the university experience and its impact on the professional work of the participants, my pilot study highlighted my lack of acknowledgment of the maternal discourse which was the most frequent theme within the data. This came as a surprise to me; therefore, the aims of both the main study and this pilot study had to be altered to include the exploration of the maternal discourse.
This study followed a Foucauldian-informed feminist post-structural approach. Further, three semi-structured interviews were conducted with recently graduated early years practitioners who started their careers as parent helpers. The interview focused on (1) the reason why the respondent joined the course, (2) the last two years of the respondent’s experience as a student and practitioner, (3) the way parent helpers are positioned and positioning themselves within their work and the university environment, and (4) the role of the respondent in the setting. Thematic narrative approach was applied to understand the maternal discourses (Riessman, 2000).
In this poster, I present my reflection on a pilot study and the unexpected findings from the qualitative data I have collected through the narratives of three recently graduated early years practitioners. The results arose from the narratives which were linked to the recurrent theme of maternal discourse. To analyse the data, a thematic approach, which involves comparing the accounts from a sample of interviewees with similar experiences, was used. The next step was coding the data, which followed by labeling and grouping them, using connections of the theoretical framework (Riessman, 2008; Gee, 2014).
The data analysis and discussion was divided under two subgroups; firstly, how discourses of motherhood are mobilised to construct the professional self; and secondly, the intersections of gender, age, class, and motherhood in constructions and performances of the professional self. In this way, the assumption that being a mother makes you a better childcare worker was problematizes.
The context in which the study has been conducted is linked to the widening participation (WP) agenda which has been identified as economically and socially beneficial at national and individual levels (Leathwood and Read, 2007).

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Poster)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Education, Social and Life Sciences > Childhood
Event Title: Society for Research into Higher Education
Event Location: Newport
Event Dates: 9-10 December
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Eva Mikuska
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2015 11:52
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2015 11:52
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/1296

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item
▲ Top

Our address

I’m looking for