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Invite to contribute to special issue of Education Sciences journal titled, “Migrant Integration in Schools: Policies and Practices”

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TEAMS members will host a special issue of the journal Education Sciences titled, “Migrant Integration in Schools: Policies and Practices”. We would like to invite you to make a contribution to this issue. If you are interested please send us an abstract by 1st October 2021. Please feel free to forward this invitation to any colleagues who might be interested.

What is agency? Conceptualizing professional agency at work

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The concept of agency has become widely used in learning research, especially in studies addressing professional and workplace learning, but also in policy discussion on how to promote individually meaningful careers and life-courses amid rapid changes in working life. The purpose of this article is to provide a critical review of the multidisciplinary concept of agency, and to suggest a fruitful conceptualization of professional agency at work. The following questions are addressed: (i) How have the ontological characteristics and manifestations of agency been understood? (ii) How have the relationships between the social and individual aspects of agency been understood? We examined previous studies and discussions on agency in the fields of education and social sciences, looking selectively also at psychology and gender studies. We identified four major research traditions in which notions of agency were prominent: (i) the social science tradition, (ii) the post-structural tradition, (iii) the socio-cultural approach, and (iv) the identity and life-course approach. Analyses within and across these traditions brought out a range of understandings and manifestations; thus agency might be viewed merely as rational and intentional activity, or else it might be seen from a temporally broad perspective, covering subjects’ ontogenetic development, and encompassing discursive, practical, and embodied relations with the world. Analysis of the relationships between individual and social/contextual elements revealed assumptions ranging from analytical inseparability to separateness, and in case of analytical separateness assumptions of strong or weak contextual influence. Based on our review, we suggest a conceptualization of professional agency from a subject-centered socio-cultural perspective. This takes individual agency and social context to be analytically separate, but mutually constitutive, and in complex ways highly interdependent. The suggested conceptualization is summarized in terms of seven propositions.

Finnish teachers as policy agents in a changing society

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As policy agents, teachers are involved in representing and reproducing language education policies in their talk, practices and classroom interaction. Contemporary Finland and its education system are experiencing times of change from the increased globalisation and dynamic flows of migration. This has affected the most recent Finnish curriculum reform for compulsory education, which to a greater extent than before promotes multilingualism. In this article, we explore how Finnish teachers reflect language policies in the two most recent curricula [Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE 2004 and FNBE 2014)] and how teachers (re)produce ideologies of language and multilingualism. The findings, based on a meta-ethnography and discourse analysis of four recent studies, show that teachers acknowledged multilingual children’s language competencies but rarely made use of them in the classroom. Teachers expressed the belief that the use of other languages than the language of schooling might impede language learning, and they discursively distinguished between us and them in terms of cultural practices, nation and language. Teachers’ talk reflected the previous curriculum and was not yet aligned with current national education policy. In order to have some effect on persistent monolingual ideologies in schools, teachers’ role as (re)makers of language policy should be taken more seriously.

Professional agency and its features in supporting teachers’ professional learning

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Research has shown that professional agency is pivotal for understanding teachers’ professional learning in different contexts. However, we lack an elaborated understanding of teachers’ professional agency in the context of in-service teacher education aimed at supporting teachers’ professional learning. To contribute to this discussion, this study investigated primary school teachers’ professional agency during in-service education and the features related to the emergence of their agency. The findings show that teachers enacted professional agency regarding their professional identity and work in various ways, suggesting that the roles of different social scaffoldings for professional agency varied. The teachers viewed pedagogical hands-on practice with colleagues’ support as especially meaningful. However, transferring learning to classroom practices depends on the teacher’s professional agency in identity renegotiation. Therefore, this study highlights the need for continuous, practice-based scaffolding that supports teachers’ agency – and accordingly professional learning – if we wish to enhance the efficiency of in-service education.

The Framework for Participation: A research tool for exploring the relationship between achievement and inclusion in schools

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This article examines the Framework for Participation: a research tool established to support a recently completed study. The research was undertaken to explore the relationship between achievement and inclusion because headteachers and teachers in some schools continue to resist becoming more inclusive in their student intake on the grounds that doing so has a negative effect on the academic achievement of other students and will lower overall standards.

Achievement and Inclusion in Schools

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Thoroughly updated to reflect the challenges of diversity in today’s schools, this new edition of Achievement and Inclusion in Schools shows how high levels of inclusion can be entirely compatible with high levels of achievement and that combining the two is not only possible but also essential if all students are to have the opportunity to participate fully in education.

Exploring inclusive pedagogy

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This paper reports on a study designed to examine teachers’ craft knowledge of their practice of ‘inclusion’ in terms of what they do, why and how. The research approach offers an important alternative to studies of students with ‘additional needs’ and the search to articulate the specialist knowledge and skill required to teach them.

Inclusive pedagogy: From learning to action. Supporting each individual in the context of ‘everybody’

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This paper draws from a novel study of graduates from a one year Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) course at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. The study explored how beginning teachers in their various contexts used the theoretical ideas of inclusive pedagogy.

Developing teachers as agents of inclusion and social justice

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Policies around the world increasingly call for teachers to become ‘agents of change’, often linked to social justice agendas. However, there is little clarity about the kind of competencies such agency involves or how it can be developed in teacher education. This paper draws on theories of teacher agency and inclusive pedagogy to clarify the meaning of teachers as agents of change in the context of inclusion and social justice. Inclusive practice requires the collaboration of teachers and others such as families and other professionals.

Teachers’ Reflection on their Agency for Change (TRAC): a tool for teacher development and professional inquiry

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Claims about teachers’ potential to influence change tend to overlook that educational outcomes arise from complex, situated practices of many actors including teachers. This article introduces a tool for Teachers’ Reflection on their Agency for Change (TRAC) for empirical analysis of teaching as a collective activity designed to ‘track’ the diverse outcomes of teacher agency, including but not limited to student attainment, while accounting for the relational and institutional contexts.