Factors that Predict Student Agency in an Ethnically Segregated School System: The Case of Estonia

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Factors that Predict Student Agency in an Ethnically Segregated School System: The Case of Estonia
Stream: Learning Experiences, Student Learning & Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Maria Erss, Tallinn University, Estonia


In spring 2022 two surveys on student agency were conducted in Estonian secondary schools with Estonian or Russian as instruction language. The first survey is part of a larger school survey which included 59 schools (55 Estonian and 4 Russian language schools) where 9259 students participated from grades 6-12. The second survey focused only on senior secondary school students from grade 11 with 399 students responding to the second survey, 254 from Estonian and 145 from Russian language schools. Drawing on the ecological agency theory agency is conceptualized as potential for self-determined action in contextual and temporal settings. Two partially overlapping survey instruments were developed focusing on student agency and the related concepts such as agentic engagement, agency for resistance, perceived support of student agency, school climate and work experience. The results of the first survey indicated that there are significant differences in the levels of student agency between Estonian and Russian language schools, boys and girls and older and younger students: students in Estonian schools, in more senior grades and boys tended to have higher agency scores. A regression analysis extracted gender, age and work experience as the most important predictors of student agency. In the 11th grade survey school climate, agency for resistance and self-perceived school success predicted the levels of agentic engagement. The results indicate that agency develops with learning and work experiences which increase the self-efficacy of students while school climate can enhance or impede this process.

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