10 SES 09 C, Beyond Mainstream Education and Becoming a Teacher
Participation and agency are challenging concepts in national core curriculums and in broader educational discourse including citizenship education in Finland (e.g. VN 2010, OPH 2011, Rautiainen et al. 2014). The curriculum and operational culture of a teacher education institution may provide students with wide opportunities for exercising and developing agency or set boundaries for it. Therefore, it is crucial to examine and consider how the curriculum is realised in the education of future teachers and how they experience its realisation. The curricular reforms in primary education and teacher education (JY2017) have made such reflections increasingly topical.
Agency is a multifaceted concept that has been defined in various ways. In this study we understand agency as participants´ active and committed action in interaction between environmental resources and social structures. So far, classroom teacher students´ agency has been examined mainly in the internal learning environments of teacher education in Finland (Eteläpelto et al. 2005, Lipponen & Kumpulainen 2011, Juutilainen et al. 2014, Ruohotie-Lyhty & Moate 2015, Toom et al. 2017). The project at hand extended the research of students´ agency from teacher education institutions to school environment. Based on the flexibility of the current curriculum, the idea was to support the development of agency by integrating students´ study modules longitudinally with authentic development work at primary school. The development work was organised as a participatory action research (Stringer 2004). The task embedded environmental and relational resources that, according to the study´s pedagogical frame (see Jääskelä et al. 2017), are important along with individual resources in developing a sense of agency (Bandura 1986, 2001). In this sub-study, the focus is on examining how the students experienced and interpreted their interactional processes related to the school project.
The school development project and the design of the sub-study are based on qualitative methodology drawing on socio-constructivist and socio-cultural theoretical perspectives. The research questions of the sub-study were: How do the students experience their social relations within the school project? How can their experiences be interpreted using the concept of relational agency (Edwards 2005, 2015)? We explore the students´ relations with their fellow students, teacher educators and school teachers participating in the project. The research materials were gathered through group interviews (N=11) with the school-based 3-4 small groups of students. The group interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Individual writings (N=20) of the students were used as additional research material. The transcripts and writings were analysed through content analysis utilising the concept of relational agency. (Stringer 2004, Tuomi & Sarajärvi 2011)
An expected major outcome of the sub-study is gaining understanding of the relational agency constructed by teacher students in the social relations (with fellow students, teacher educators and school teachers) of a school development project. The outcomes representing students´ perceptions offer an important participant view to university-school cooperation complementing the outcomes of other sub-studies of the project. The outcomes of the project as a whole, exploring the integration of university studies with practical school development work, may provide insights for further research and pedagogical ideas for curriculum development in teacher education. In addition, shared experiences and knowledge produced by the project will enrich research literature concerning university-school cooperation. The outcomes may be of interest to researchers and teacher educators working on the development of teacher education in other European countries.
Bandura, Albert (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Bandura, Albert (2001). Social cognitive theory: an agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology 52, 1–26. Edwards, Anne (2005) Relational agency: learning to be resourceful practitioner. International Journal of Educational Research 43:3, 168–182. Edwards, Anne (2015) Discussion. Recognising and realising teachers’ professional agency. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 21:6, 779–784. Eteläpelto, Anneli & Littleton, Karen & Lahti, Jaana & Wirtanen, Sini (2005) Students´ accounts of their participation in an intensive long-term learning community. International Journal of Educational Research 43:3, 183–207. Juutilainen, Maaret & Metsäpelto, Riitta-Leena & Poikkeus, Anna-Maija (2014) Creating learning paths, influencing, participating: a pilot study on teacher students’ experiences of agency in their first-year small group studies. In Hannu L. T. Heikkinen & Josephine Moate & Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen (eds.) Enabling education: proceedings of the annual conference of Finnish Educational Research Association FERA 2013. Oulu: Suomen kasvatustieteellinen seura, 139–164. JY (2017) University of Jyväskylä. Opetussuunnitelmat 2017-2020 [Curriculum plans 2017–2020]. https://www.jyu.fi/edupsy/fi/laitokset/okl/opiskelu/luokanopettajakoulutus/opetussuunnitelmat-ja-opetusohjalmat Jääskelä, Päivikki & Poikkeus, Anna-Maija & Vasalampi, Kati & Valleala, Ulla Maija & Rasku-Puttonen, Helena (2017) Assessing agency of university studies: validation of the AUS Scale. Studies in Higher Education 42:11, 2061–2079. Lipponen, Lasse & Kumpulainen, Kristiina (2011) Acting as accountable authors: creating interactional spaces for agency work in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education 27:5, 812–819. OPH (2011) Finnish National Board of Education. Demokratiakasvatusselvitys [Democracy education report]. Opetushallitus. Raportit ja selvitykset 2011:27. Rautiainen, Matti & Vanhanen-Nuutinen, Liisa & Virta, Arja (2014). Demokratia ja ihmisoikeudet; tavoitteet ja sisällöt opettajankoulutuksessa [Democracy and human rights. Objectives and content in teacher education]. Helsinki: Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö. Ruohotie-Lyhty, Maria & Moate, Josephine (2015) Proactive and reactive dimensions of life-course agency: mapping student teachers’ language learning experiences. Language and Education 29:1, 46–61. Stringer, Ernie (2004) Action research in education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Toom, Auli & Pietarinen, Janne & Soini, Tiina & Pyhältö, Kirsi (2017) How does the learning environment in teacher education cultivate first year student teachers’ sense of professional agency in the professional community? Teaching and Teacher Education 63, 126–136. Tuomi, Jouni & Sarajärvi, Anneli (2011) Laadullinen tutkimus ja sisällönanalyysi [Qualitative research and content analysis]. (alkup. 2002). Helsinki: Tammi. VN (2010) Council of State. Valtioneuvoston periaatepäätös demokratian edistämisestä Suomessa [Council of State decision in principle to promote democracy in Finland]. Mietintöjä ja lausuntoja 17. Helsinki: Oikeusministeriö.
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