A Study of Teacher Agency: Forms, Pathways, and Impacts for Novice, Mid-Career, and Veteran Teachers
AuthorSpink, Joseph Kevin
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis investigation of teacher agency addresses the dual concerns of reduced teacher agency in an era of accountability tied to high stakes testing and a reduced conception of the professional role of teachers to that of an instrumentalist, restricting teachers' decisions regarding curriculum and instruction . This study has three goals: the primary goal is to understand the dynamics associated with the development of professional teacher agency; a secondary goal is to understand benefits and the detriments resulting from the exercise or denial of teacher agency; and a third goal is to describe teacher agency as it is practiced across a career span. This study answers questions about the forms of, conducive conditions for, challenges to, and impacts from the assertion or denial of teacher agency. The participants are twenty teachers, ten veteran retired teachers and ten practicing teachers. The participants include a diverse ethnic and gender demographic of both elementary and secondary teachers. The veteran teacher cohort participants' use of agency was investigated through phenomenological methods (Husserl, 1931). The practicing teacher cohort was studied through grounded theory methods from a constructivist perspectivist (Charmaz, 2014), and included a participant action research (PAR) component. Data sources for both cohorts included interviews and a survey. The practicing teachers also participated in observations and related discussions. A critical theory lens was used as an aspect of the data analysis. The findings and implications reveal teacher agency to be a developmental process. Teacher agency is linked to teacher identity formation and sense of professional ownership. Forms of agency are reflective of teachers' teleological sense of purpose, vis-à-vis individual student autonomy and democratic and social justice visions. Implications for pre-service teacher education, teacher learning, and future research possibilities are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Teaching & Teacher Education