Exploring agency on a continuum in order to inform how to support primary science teachers to exercise agency in teaching STEM

Year: 2019

Author: Musofer, Reshma, Nichols, Kim, Arnell, Jill, Downs, Greg

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The paper explores how professional development from Future Makers around STEM fosters opportunities for teachers to exercise agency, and how such practices create spaces for students’ agency and engagement in science. Teachers partnered in the study will talk about their experiences with examples from the classroom context. The research team will draw on the partner teacher experiences and the pilot study analysis of agency to inform how to support them to develop agency around implementing STEM resources in the science classroom In the pilot study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with primary science teachers who participated in professional development around embedding STEM inquiry in the science classroom. Teachers were identified on a continuum from low to high agency. Coding of semi-structured interview responses was used to determine the frequency of high, moderate or low agency demonstrated by the teachers. Quantitative analysis showed that most teachers demonstrated high agency, however there were a small number of instances of low agency noted. Interview responses were used to provide further insight into the use and level of agency by teachers as well as how that agency subsequently created spaces of engagement for students. Analysing teacher agency in the context of enacting an intervention not only will help us understand how change is re-contextualized but also how such re-contextualization creates spaces for student learning and engagement in STEM. This analysis also provides information on how to support teacher and student agency around STEM in the science classroom. This has meaningful implications for the implementation of innovations from professional development.