Making sense of teacher agency for change with social and epistemic network analysis

Pantić, N., Galey, S., Florian, L., Joksimović, S., Viry, G., Gašević, D., Knutes Nyqvist, H., & Kyritsi, K. Journal of Educational Change, 2021.


Reference to teachers as agents of change has become commonplace in the education literature, including change toward more inclusive practice in response to the changing demographic of schooling. Yet, little is known about how teacher agency relates to (1) their understanding of, and commitment to any given change agenda and (2) the institutional and social structures through which they are able to access knowledge and resources within and beyond their schools. This study combined social and epistemic network analysis to examine teachers’ understanding of change and their sense of agency as they use their social networks to mobilise support for furthering change that matters to them. Our study is the first to apply this learning analytic approach in a real setting context. We used theories of teacher agency and inclusive pedagogy to interpret teachers’ social interactions in light of the extent to which they seek to make a difference toward greater inclusion. We collected data with an online log completed by teachers and other staff in two schools in Sweden over 6 months. The findings suggest that teachers understanding of change is embedded in their day-to-day activities such as student support, lesson planning, improvement of programs, and working conditions. Teachers tend to exercise agency toward inclusion when they seek to support student learning and well-being. When teachers act as agents of change, their social networks are bigger, more diverse and more collaborative than in situations in which they act as role implementers. We discuss substantive and methodological implications of these findings.

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