On 7 July 2017 at 16.00 Agnese Karaseva will defend her doctoral thesis ”Teacher Professional Agency in Relation to Digital Technology Integration in Teaching in Estonian and Latvian Schools ” in the Council of the Institute of Social Studies.
Supervisors: Professor Andra Siibak (PhD) University of Tartu , Professor Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt (PhD) University of Malmö
Opponent: Professor Kristiina Kumpulainen (PhD), University of Helsinki, Finland
Description of the problem
Teachers in Europe generally are granted autonomy in deciding on their instructional approaches, although they report being increasingly exposed to tightening performativity measures, which include the use of ICT, external evaluation systems, accountability rules and curriculum requirements. Explorations of such tensions reveals how teacher professional agency emerges in relation to ICT use within particular contexts shaped by various personal, situational, social and contextual influences. This doctoral study avoids the often-applied “pro-change versus con-change” conceptualization of teacher agency, instead showing the broadness of the spectrum of teachers’ responses to educational change.
Result and benefit
The results demonstrates that out of the complex network of influences, teacher stances and choices of ICT integration in teaching are most strongly related to self-efficacy beliefs, strong subject-related identity and the need to establish teacher accountability policies. Variations in teacher agency manifestations reveal the underlying conflicts and inconsistencies between the different and often non-technological values, pressures and demands which teachers try to balance in order to fulfil their professional roles and responsibilities.
This doctoral study indicates that for some teachers the arrival of ICT opened new avenues for experimenting, playing and trying out new teaching methods, while for others the use of ICT turned out to be a means of receiving external approval and creating and sustaining the image of being a “modern” teacher.
The importance of this study is that only through acknowledging the important role of teachers as mediators of ICT policy implementation and paying close attention to the contexts in which teachers “read” and enact policy messages is it possible to understand why technology integration in schools happens in the ways it does. Understanding the complexity and multifaceted nature of the interplay of various factors shaping teachers’ practices might lead to better policies and improved dialogue between policy makers and teachers.