Professional learning and agency in an identity coaching programme

Katja Vähäsantanen, Päivi Hökkä, Susanna Paloniemi, Sanna Herranen, Anneli Eteläpelto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


This article addresses the professional learning that occurred in an identity coaching programme. The arts-based programme aimed to enhance the participants’ professional learning, notably through helping them to process their professional identities. Professional learning was seen as resourced by the participants’ professional agency, and by the promotion of such agency. Through interviews, we investigated what the participants perceived they had learnt during the programme, and the potential differences in learning outcomes between professional groups from university and hospital contexts. The findings showed that the programme was perceived as a rich learning arena in the domains of the professional self (involving a crafted professional identity), professional relationships (involving increased knowledge of colleagues and becoming an active participant in the work community) and professional competencies (involving socio-emotional knowledge and skills). The professionals (academics and administrative personnel) from a university learnt more during the programme than did the nurses and physicians working in a hospital. The findings suggest that the primary emphasis in professional learning should be on professional identity and agency within the social relationships that exist in training and work settings. The article also presents our theoretical considerations regarding the connection between professional agency and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-536
Number of pages23
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • coaching
  • professional agency
  • professional identity
  • professional learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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