Teacher Agency in the Context of Curriculum Reform – An International Scoping Review

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Teacher Agency in the Context of Curriculum Reform – An International Scoping Review
Stream: Educational Policy, Leadership, Management & Administration
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Hien Dinh, Tampere University, Finland


In parallel with neoliberal curriculum reforms taking place over the globe, teacher agency is increasingly recognized as a worthwhile research topic. Although the concept of teacher agency is fast becoming an educationally worldwide concern, there is little agreement on its conceptualization. Additionally, despite its real significance to educational changes, no previous study has attempted to collate international evidence on teacher agency enactment and how to support such agency in large-scale K-12 curriculum reforms. Therefore, this scoping review aims to: (1) clarify how teacher agency has been conceptualized in relation to curriculum reform; (2) uncover teacher’s experience of agency in government-initiated reforms; (3) identify factors that possibly influence teacher agency. Following the procedure recommended by Arksey and O'Malley (2005), the author finally selected 10 empirical studies published in peer-reviewed Scopus indexed journals that met the inclusion criteria. Findings reveal that varied concepts and frameworks have been adopted to capture the complexity of teacher agency as it relates to system-wide curriculum reforms. It is also found that teachers in reviewed studies largely experienced tension and demonstrated different levels of agency across curriculum reform contexts. As emerging from the literature, their enactment of agency was supposedly impacted by personal, structural and cultural conditions. Whereas strong professional belief and collaborative school culture were the most likely to enable agency, contradictions between tools of the new curriculum and teacher’s experiences and beliefs seemed to considerably constrain it. Implications for researchers, policy makers, school leaders and teacher trainers are discussed.

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