Illustrating career stories lived by early childhood professionals

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis examines career stories curated with four early childhood professionals offering an intimate view of how early childhood professionals become early childhood professionals. The research aimed to reflect on how early childhood professionals discuss their lives and careers, how they navigate factors shaping their professional transitions and how people’s lives are affected by the work they do. A visual narrative methodology supported data collection and informed the presentation of this research. The challenges and possibilities of making-meaning through a visual and verbal medium provided a constant source of reflection, bringing a messy-richness to the research. Using diffractive analysis and through a process of becoming-with-the-data, iterative and non-linear findings emerged. Exploration of the particularity of the four stories opened a window for further understanding the contextualisation of career trajectories within the profession and the diverse factors shaping career decisions. Interpretation of the research data finds a symbiotic relationship occurring between the career choices of people working within the profession and the influences on, and from, wider society. This includes an absence of theorised or recognised discussions about career pathways for early childhood professionals. These findings contribute to the debates calling to widen rather than narrow discussions about careers in early childhood education and care, where professionals are considered not only for their skills and training, but how they grow and change as human beings. In summary, the research aimed to contribute to the gap in knowledge about career trajectories experienced by early childhood professionals. Both theoretical and practical implications are proposed, including greater theorisation of career trajectories and more proactive discussions within and through the workforce about the diverse pathways and opportunities available. The research problematises the use of a visual narrative methodology, suggesting it is an interesting space for examination.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Sheffield
  • Sikes, Pat, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Oct 2019
Publication statusUnpublished - May 2019


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