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The Value of Objects: How Artefacts Can Enrich Professional Reflection and Reflexivity

Part of the Knowledge Studies in Higher Education book series (KSHE,volume 13)


This chapter will explore how artefacts can be utilised to support reflection on professional identities and promote reflexivity. With origins in material culture and sociomateriality (Orlikowski & Scott The Academy of Management Annals 2:433–474, 2008), the exploration of how objects can demonstrate aspects of professional identity has previously been explored in the social work context (Scholar Qualitative Social Work 16:631–648, 2017; Doel The British Journal of Social Work 49:824–841, 2019). The authors utilised this concept more widely in their own research, exploring the identities and transitions of pracademics from diverse subject areas and at various stages of their academic careers (Dickinson et al. Studies in Higher Education 47:290–304, 2020). Beginning with an exploration of objects and their link to identity, this chapter will develop to consider the utility of artefacts in professional reflection and reflexivity. Readers will be encouraged to consider how selecting and reflecting on their own artefacts can contribute to their understanding of their motivations to transition to Higher Education and how they can take a values-led approach as their professional identity evolves post-transition.


  • Reflexivity
  • Reflection
  • Professional identity
  • Sociomateriality
  • Artefacts
  • Objects
  • Professional values
  • Career transitions
  • Totems 

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  1. 1.

    Former polytechnics or Higher Education colleges that were granted university status in the United Kingdom through the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.


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Correspondence to Jill Dickinson .

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© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

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Dickinson, J., Griffiths, TL. (2023). The Value of Objects: How Artefacts Can Enrich Professional Reflection and Reflexivity. In: Dickinson, J., Griffiths, TL. (eds) Professional Development for Practitioners in Academia. Knowledge Studies in Higher Education, vol 13. Springer, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-33745-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-33746-8

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