Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Research Student: Nicky Bremner

Photo of Nicky Bremner

The evolution of teacher self-identity during educational changes at a Mexican university

Submission Date: August 2016

Mexico, like many countries in the world, is currently experiencing educational changes. Arguably the most important of these is the shift from a traditional teacher-centred ideology towards a more student-centred one. However, as of yet, this change has not been anywhere near as successful as intended. The change literature indicates that one of the main reasons for this is the significant cultural change that is demanded of teachers, and suggests that we must therefore put more emphasis on the human side of change as opposed to viewing it merely as a rational, technical process.

My study focuses on changes to teachers’ professional self-identities as they experience the changes, and how these identity transformations affect how they go on to implement them. Broadening our understanding of these issues will hopefully help decision-makers provide better support to those involved in the educational change process.


I am originally from Newcastle, but for the last 8 years, I have divided my time between working in Mexico and studying in the UK. I have worked as an EFL teacher and teacher trainer in Mexico. I have also started my own translation business called Translation England, which specializes in Spanish to English translation. All of my studies have been at the University of Leeds; I started with a BA in Spanish Language and Literature, continued with an MA in Applied Translation Studies, before undertaking my current PhD challenge.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

The main reason I initially decided to do a PhD was to improve my chances of getting a job I would really enjoy. However, as time has passed I have experienced a more intrinsic enjoyment of being a trainee academic. I have really felt in my element being creative, challenging myself, debating with colleagues, and constantly using my brain. Furthermore, from a moral perspective, I think I am doing something that will hopefully produce some good to the world, and this is one of my key motivations.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

Generally speaking, I think that education is really important to making the world a better place, so there is nothing more motivating than researching in this subject. More specifically, I find the topic of educational change fascinating, as it is the “bigger picture” of education, and especially the human side of educational changes. This perspective is often overlooked but (as a human myself) I’ve always been aware of its importance. We all have feelings which affect the way we act, but policy makers rarely, if ever, take this into account. In short, studying something you think is important, new and relevant is motivating and that’s what gives you the passion to keep doing it.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

In the long term, I would like to work at a UK university, but in the shorter term I would like to work in Mexico as a researcher and teacher trainer.

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