La transformación del profesorado universitario: nuevas identidades académicas en la universidad de hoy

  1. Mula Falcón, Javier
Supervised by:
  1. Jesús Domingo Segovia Co-director
  2. Katia Caballero Rodríguez Co-director

Defence university: Universidad de Granada

Fecha de defensa: 29 September 2023

  1. Antonio Bolívar Botía Chair
  2. María Purificación Pérez García Secretary
  3. Inguun Dahler Hybertsen Committee member
  4. Estefanía Martínez Valdivia Committee member
  5. Geo Saura Committee member

Type: Thesis


The improvement and assurance of the quality of Higher Education have become central features of political agendas worldwide, including Europe and Spain, mainly due to the widely recognized Bologna Plan. As a result, a comprehensive set of reforms has been implemented, incorporating external evaluation processes, often overseen by independent agencies. These evaluations primarily target elements such as curricula, mobility plans, and teaching staff, along with obtaining incentives (funding, prestige, job security, or career advancement), thereby establishing them as key components. In this regard, performance appraisals of university academics seem to play a crucial role. These appraisals notably prioritise research over other responsibilities, and their outcomes are often decisive when it comes to access, retention, career progression, and salary incentives. International research has shown the considerable impact of these systems on professional activity, health, sociofamily relationships, and the construction of academic identities. However, relatively few studies have examined this issue in the Spanish context. Therefore, the main objective of this doctoral thesis is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current (re)construction and development of professional identities among university lecturers in the Spanish context. With special emphasis on early career academics in the field of Social Sciences. To meet this objective, a descriptive, interpretative, and exploratory approach was chosen, using a mixed design (QUAN-QUAL). This mixed design consisted of three distinct phases integrated in a sequential design. The first phase involved a quantitative study using questionnaires, utilizing both descriptive analyses and contrasts of differences. The second phase adopted a biographical-narrative approach through interviews, which culminated in a process of in-depth understanding through an image-elicitation study (visual narratives). In this phase, both horizontal (by themes) and vertical (by key informants) thematic analyses were conducted. The third phase consisted of a content analysis of the social network Twitter, with the aim of delving deeper into one of the themes identified in the horizontal analysis: the resistance shown by academics. The study sample consisted of academics from the nine Andalusian public universities (2183 in the case of the quantitative phase and 18 in the case of the qualitative phase) and two early career academic associations in the study of the Twitter social network. The findings of this research have revealed how university academics develop identities characterised by the prioritisation of scientific production at the expense of other responsibilities, particularly teaching. In these identities, evaluation criteria become the guiding axis of daily professional activity, driven by the pursuit of job security and the desire for a satisfactory and fulfilling life. Consequently, various strategies are employed to meet these productivity demands, including collaboration, neglecting teaching duties, engaging in ethically questionable practices, and redirecting research towards publishing interests. As a result, these identities have profound repercussions for health, including fatigue, exhaustion, stress, and anxiety, along with sociofamilial consequences, low levels of job satisfaction, and feelings of loneliness, insecurity, guilt, fear, disappointment or disillusionment. However, in these identities, individuals show an awareness and hold a negative view of the impact of appraisals on their professional activities and personal lives. Moreover, there is a presence of criticism and resistance that is manifest through associations and the use of digital platforms such as Twitter. The content shared on these platforms prioritises the urgent need to improve the employment conditions of university academics. In addition to evaluations, the present findings revealed that the identity formation of the analysed sample is also shaped by various other factors. These include contextual factors such as bureaucracy, inbreeding, flexibility of the profession, job instability and precariousness, societal perceptions of the profession, and professional relationships with the department and the thesis supervisor. Personal factors such as the initial perception of the university and opinions on the current university system also play a role. Finally, gender related factors such as motherhood, the lack of real equality, and discriminatory treatment within the academic environment also emerged as significant determinants of identity formation. Therefore, what initially began as a movement aimed at pedagogical renewal and quality enhancement in higher education institutions seems to have produced completely contrasting outcomes. Consequently, universities are now increasingly aligning themselves with market interests and demands, thereby jeopardizing their role as catalysts for transformation and social progress. Faced with this predicament, this thesis draws conclusions that highlight the need for improvement and change, the implications of which include various aspects such as: 1) a comprehensive reassessment of the evaluation criteria, redirecting them towards emphasizing quality and recognizing the true potential of academics; 2) a reorientation of professional focus towards prioritizing teaching and conducting research on teaching as essential components of the profession; and 3) the establishment of support and guidance structures that allow for effectively managing and balancing the various demands associated with an academic career.