Dr Sai Loo, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

Further Education, Professional and Occupational Pedagogy

This series of articles is taken from the research monograph, Further Education, Professional and Occupational Pedagogy: Knowledge and Experiences (Loo, 2019).

The first article centred on FE teachers’ professional identities, the second article on their emotional ecology, and the third, on reconceptualising teacher education as part of a strategic approach to widening participation. The findings are based on empirical data using a questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews of eight participants (all with vocational/occupational experiences) were carried out.

Relevant literature

Schutz et al. (2006) define emotions as ways of being that are socially constructed judgements, which emerge consciously or unconsciously regarding perceived aims, maintain standards or beliefs. Hastings (2004) studied the positive and negative emotions of Australian teachers. Trigwell (2012) developed this previous notion by relating teachers’ emotions to their teaching approaches. O’Connor (2008) expanded on past studies by finding that teachers’ roles were emotionally engaging and personally demanding in complex contexts. In the US study by Cross and Hong (2012), they use a relational and social construction where the teachers’ emotions and educational activities are related and socially enacted. Zembylas (2007) goes further than Cross and Hong to suggest that a teacher’s emotional ecology includes a teacher’s personal history, understanding of learners and subject matter.

Thus his study provides a framework for studying FE teachers’ emotional knowledge via pedagogic, life and occupational know-how. Furthermore, the three planes of emotional ecology as delineated by Zembylas are used as a way of structuring the discussion of the data in later sections. First is individual (such as emotional connections with the subject matter, beliefs about teaching and learning, and self- awareness). Second is relational (such as emotional connections with learners, their emotional experiences and knowledge of learners’ emotions). Third is socio-political (such as emotional knowledge of institutional, cultural contexts, curricula, subject matter and pedagogies) (Zembylas, 2007. This typology of emotional ecology offers a useful theoretical framework to critique and evaluate the broader professional knowledge of FE teachers.


This section draws from the eight participants’ empirical data and uses Zembylas’s three types of emotional planes of individual, relational and socio-political. These planes are used to foreground the participants’ wider professional experiences of pedagogy, life and occupation.

1. Individual

Ann is a female in her 40’s. She was teaching at an FE college on a full-time basis on radio production and journalism for four years. Her family background was not privileged, and she went to a state school, but she did her first degree at the University of Oxford. Her mother died when Ann was in her teens. She worked in Japan in the hotel industry before returning to the UK.


Ann had negative experiences when she started teaching. She felt a fraud teaching journalism because she felt that she was not experienced enough in her occupational practice. This was different from Hasting’s (2004) findings of the teachers’ disappointments, frustrations and anxieties. Her feelings were inter-related. They relate to her teaching of journalism where she felt her lack of experiences was preventing her from being a good teacher on the one side, and her lack of occupational experiences, which she might not be able to draw from on the other side. Unlike Trigwell’s (2012) findings of university teachers with negative experiences of teacher-centred approaches, Ann used student-centred approaches such as role-plays. Her empathy with her disadvantaged learners gave her a different pedagogic approach, unlike Trigwell’s teachers. She also believed that “teachers needed to be aware of their intrapersonal and interpersonal weaknesses and suggested therapy for those before teaching”. This philosophy resonated with Schutz’s (2006) findings. Ann’s life experiences of therapeutic help when, as a teenage, she lost her mother, gave her a greater awareness of herself and those around her. She used this negative life emotional know-how to provide a positive educational approach to her disadvantaged charges.

2. Relational

Lou, a female in her 30s, taught dance and Feldenkrais movement in adult and community settings. She worked five hours per week for five years. Trained as a dancer in the UK and Switzerland, Lou then toured the Continent with a dance company before turning to teach.

Lou’s relational, emotional plane covers pedagogic, life and occupational know-how. She referred to her negative learning experience of lactic acid poisoning in her dance programme as her dance teacher was not aware of this phenomenon. This phenomenon included forgetting dance movements, feeling fatigued and body pains. This negative learning experience is different from Hasting’s (2004) findings. She used her learning experiences to positively engage with her learners by adopting physical exercises as strategies to prevent her learners from experiencing lactic acid poisoning (pedagogic know-how). She learnt this phenomenon from her friend in physical education (life experience). She applied her know-how when touring with a European contemporary dance group (occupational experience) (Cross and Hong, 2012).

3. Socio-political

Cori, a female teacher in her 50s, teaches dental hygiene in a higher education institution half of her time, and practices as a dental hygienist in the other half of her time.

Cori features a socio-political emotional plane from the three forms of emotional knowledge: pedagogic, life and occupation. She sees her teaching in dental hygiene as of a higher status than her occupational role as a dental hygienist. At the institution level (Zembylas, 2007), she is teaching at a university on the first-degree course of dental hygiene with an affiliation to a professional body she views this as of higher social standing than being a dental hygienist. Culturally (Zembylas, 2007), the difference in the status of the two activities enabled her to 'become' the lecturer. But, there are pedagogic constraints. These constraints included the wider coverage of the course curriculum as well as that of the professional body's regulations. These constraints prevented her from offering more holistic learning experiences to her learners.

Regarding her life experiences, she mentioned the time she, as a parent, waited at the school gates to collect her child while conversing with other parents. She felt that her role as a parent was different from that of a lecturer and a dental hygienist. As a parent, she provided emotional care and support to her offspring while attending school and other extra-curricular activities. Being a university lecturer, she was viewed as an expert in her field, which was science-related. As a dental hygienist, she was seen as of lower professional status to a dentist. However, slightly of a higher standing to a person at the front desk. Nevertheless, Cori's different socially constructed ways of being offered a broader dimension to those by Schutz et al. (2006) and Cross and Hong (2012).

Turning to Cori's occupational emotional know-how, tension exists between her teaching obligation to cover the professional requirements on the one hand, and offering her learners a more extensive curriculum and learning experience than that prescribed in the professional standards on the other.

O'Connor (2008) classifies this emotional tension as performative, professional and philosophical. In Cori's case, one pressure is inter-related. Her educational activities, as a lecturer, are symbiotically linked to her occupational practices, as a dental hygienist. The other tension is a philosophical one: that of a holistic pedagogical approach on the one hand and the demands and constraints of covering the course curriculum and professional accreditation requirements on the other side. These two tensions are not featured in O'Connor's findings.


The above delineations, using Zembylas’s (2007) three planes of emotional ecology, provided new narratives using a teacher’s pedagogic, life and occupational experiences.

Dr Sai Loo, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

Sai Loo (PhD, MA, BSc, FHEA, ACA, FETC) has taught in FE and worked in industry as a Chartered Accountant. Sai has published over 120 articles, conference papers and keynotes (84 per cent are single-authored) including six research monographs with Routledge. His research area is ‘occupational education’ across teaching, learning and work settings from pre-university to professional education.

In the final article, I will focus on teacher education/training as an approach to widen participation in the FE sector.


Cross, D. I., Hong, J. Y. 2012 An ecological examination of teachers’ emotions in the school context. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28: 957–967.

Hastings, W. 2004 Emotions and the practicum: the cooperating teachers’ perspective.

Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 10(2): 135–148.

Loo, S. 2019 Further Education, Professional and Occupational Pedagogy: Knowledge and Experiences. Abingdon: Routledge.

O’Connor, K. E. 2008 ‘You choose to care’: teachers, emotions and professional identity. Teaching and Teachers Education, 24(1): 117-126.

Schutz, P. A., Hong, J. Y., Cross, D. L., Osbon, J. N. 2006 Reflections on investigating emotion in educational activity settings. Educational Psychology Review, 18(4): 343–360.

Trigwell, K. 2012 Relations between teachers’ emotions in teaching and their approaches to teaching in higher education. Instructional Science, 40: 607–621.

Zembylas, M. 2007 Emotional ecology: the intersection of emotional knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge in teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23: 355–367.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page