Researching Primary Teachers’ Professional Agency: Employing Interactive Ethnography to Overcome Reluctance to Teach Science
This paper provides a report of a case study on the professional agency of an experienced early years teacher, Sarah, who successfully embedded a chemical science program of teaching-learning for her students aged between 6 and 8. Interactive ethnography informs the research design, and discursive psychology provides the tools for the analysis of Sarah’s speech acts for her positioning as a responsible agent. Reframing the problem of primary teacher reluctance to teach science in terms of primary teachers’ professional agency using discursive psychology, this ontological study provides new insight into issues related to the provision of science education in primary schools and asks: How do primary teachers position themselves and others in relation to science curriculum and education? The research calls for research methodologies and reform efforts in primary science that are better grounded in the local moral orders of primary schools.
KeywordsTeacher agency Science education Discursive psychology Interactive ethnography
I am grateful to the guidance of Jo Sadler (dec.) and Dr. Rod Fawns who were my supervisors during this research project and to the Victorian Government who funded my employment at the school as the Scientist in Residence through the school’s successful application to their Scientists and Engineers in Schools Initiative.
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