Nina's Notes

for Effective Teaching and Meaningful Learning

Learner Agency Research

I am currently (2016) working on my dissertation research about learner agency:

Students' perceptions of their learner agency - a phenomenographic inquiry to the lived learning experiences of high school seniors

This doctoral research project focused on the high school students’ learning experiences with a particular interest in understanding how they describe the role of learner in contemporary K-12 system. The data was collected with individual thematic interviews and analyzed using the phenomenographic tradition, discussing students' choices within the structure of formal education and referring to agency as experiences of effort and authorship of learning.

Learning is fundamental, subjective phenomenon, and an important part of being a human. We couldn't survive without the ability to learn and adapt to the environment where we live, work and learn. Human development doesn't end in adolescence, but continues throughout our lives. It is important to understand how formal education shapes students' identities.

School learning is a special type of learning, even though we often refer to schooling while talking about learning, and keep on emphasizing teaching over learning. This must change, because students are the ones who need to own their learning, and teachers are there to help students to learn. The goal of formal education system is to help students to obtain information and construct knowledge, but also to become capable for independent judgment. Examples of situations where this judgment is important are reading comprehension,understanding scientific principles and being able to support one's opinion with facts.

Agency in any given social situation refers to the intentionality of one's actions and the opportunities to make choices.Agency includes the aspect of time, as the continued engagement in the process of choosing combines one's actions in the past, present, and future. Our choices today often result from choices we made previously.

In the classroom environment learner agency denotes the quality of students'engagement. Agency is not something students have, it is something students do. Students may choose to engage in their own learning, or just strategically or ritually comply with the tasks and activities presented to them - and the big problem in schooling is this detachment or disengagement that results from students having no ownership over their own learning.

Learner agency requires for students' voice to be heard, so that they have ownership over their own learning. The first step is to make sure that students believe that their choices and actions will make a difference in their learning process. By supporting learner agency throughout the formal education it is possible to foster life-long learning,which is crucially important in the rapidly changing world.

Bandura, A. (2006). Toward a psychology of human agency. Perspectives on psychological science, 1(2), 164-180
Biesta, G., & Tedder, M. (2006).How is agency possible? Towards an ecological understanding of agency-as-achievement. University of Exeter School of Education and Lifelong Learning, Working Paper, 5. 

Giddens, A. (1984). The construction of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. 
Priestley, M., Biesta,G., & Robinson, S. (2014). Teacher agency: what is it and why does it matter?.

Marton, F., & Pong, W. Y. (2005). On the unit of description in phenomenography. Higher education research & development, 24(4), 335-348.

Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1976). On Qualitative Differences in Learning: I—Outcome and process*. British journal of educational psychology, 46(1), 4-11.

Säljö, R. (2012). Schoolingand spaces for learning: Cultural dynamics and student sarticipation andagency.  In E. Hjörne, G. van derAalsvoort, & Abreu (Eds.).  Learning,social interaction and diversity–exploring identities in school practices (pp.9-14). Rotterdam: SensePublishers

Trigwell,K., Prosser, M. & Ginns, P. (2005). Phenomenographic pedagogy and revised Approaches to teaching inventory. Higher Education Research &Development 24(4), 349-360.

3C Approach

Nina's Notes promotes student-centered  3C - teaching and learning based on Finnish pedagogy 

The cognitive approach combined with the constructive and  cooperative  practices enable meaningful and effective teaching and learning- to every classroom!


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