Teacher educators experiencing agency engaging in professional inquiry in teacher education

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This paper presents research from a Danish large-scale and collaborative initiative (2019-2023) for systematically developing teacher education entitled: ‘Teacher education as a laboratory for developing excellent teaching and education’(LULAB). Framed by the educational development initiative LULAB teacher educators and student teachers are, in collaboration with teachers and students from partner-schools, experimenting with developing, analysing, and sharing teaching approaches in teacher education (professional inquiry). Boyd and White (2017) elaborate on professional inquiry as a middle position between the normal reflected development of teaching based on evaluation and genuine practitioner research. The initiative is furthermore inspired by scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) approaches in higher education (Kreber & Cranton, 2000).
Referring to agency as an emergent phenomenon situated in a specific context (Priestley, Biesta, Robinson, 2015) the research addresses the question about how participation in LULAB support agency among the stakeholders. The findings presented here focus in particular on the teacher educators. Hökkä, Rasku-Puttonen, and Eteläpelto (2008) and Hökkä and Eteläpelto (2014) emphasise teacher educators’ professional agency in bottom-up initiatives in the collegial community, but there is a need for more knowledge how this is experienced and unfolded in an organisational initiative with collaborative professional inquiry projects.
The two research questions are:
●In what ways and to what extent do the teacher educators’ self-reports indicate professional agency as conceptualized in the 3-dimensional model of professional agency in work contexts?
●In what ways do the teacher educators unfold and develop professional agency in the dynamic context of LULAB as an educational development initiative and in the professional inquiry projects in LULAB?

The research design is a sequential mixed method design (Creswell & Clark, 2018) with a repeated survey, where the data reported here is from the first round October 2020, supplemented with qualitative interviews and observations. Survey items referring to the 3-dimensional model of agency in working life contexts (Vähäsantanen et al., 2019) were translated and slightly adapted to the Danish context. The respondents answered in a five-point likert-scale format on items like these examples:” My views are taken into consideration in the work community” (dimension 1), “I actively collaborate with others in my unit” (dimension 2) and “In my work I can focus on things that interest me” (dimension 3). The survey was distributed to all teacher educators from the university college (N= 212), with answers from 97 teacher educators (46%). A non-response analysis has been performed indicating that the answers are relatively representatively distributed across the four addresses of teacher education, the various subjects in teacher education and teacher educators’ level of experiences. 51% of the respondents have themselves been active in LULAB projects, 49% have not. The survey included also items about experiences from the concrete LULAB projects. This part was only launched to the first group.
The findings show that the teacher educators being in “the machine room” in the professional inquiry projects themselves experience new possibilities for collaboration and influence in their working life indicating an effect on their professional agency in the context of being part of educational development. In particular, the LULAB projects provide a possibility to participate in shared work-practices and in developing these (educational) work practices. This is experienced as meaningful and motivating.
This is confirmed when looking into the qualitative data from teacher educators’ dialogues across projects. They emphasize positively the small professional inquiry project as being fruitful because they are active in development close to their teaching (the middle position: Boyd & White, 2017). The results however indicate challenges in relation to the vision of LULAB being a general organisational initiative, not only affecting those having concrete projects at a given time. Implications in relation to educational development processes, including how to work with a broader institutionalisation, was discussed at the conference.

Antal sider3
StatusUdgivet - 2021
BegivenhedECER 2021: Education and Society: expectations, prescriptions, reconciliations - Geneva, Schweiz
Varighed: 6 sep. 202110 sep. 2021


KonferenceECER 2021


  • Uddannelse, professioner og erhverv


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