Encyclopedia of Teacher Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Michael A. Peters

Teacher Agency

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-1179-6_271-1


Throughout the world, a call for teachers to be agentic professionals has emerged in literature as a strategic response to policy agendas promoting rigid accountability of educational reforms and school development (Eteläpelto et al. 2013). The notion of teacher agency is being used to describe the agentic capacity to make active choices in educational practices. Teacher agency refers to teacher’s competence to plan and enact educational change, direct, and regulate their actions in educational contexts. Becoming a crucial variable in studying teaching behavior and teacher education, researchers have investigated agency of student teachers, novice teachers, and experienced teachers to examine how agency affect learning to teach and acting to reform. In educational contexts, policy implementation and reform innovation rely on individual and/or collective agency of teachers. Agency is also of vital importance for teacher education and school improvement since it determines...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Barker, P. (2005). Knowledge management for e-learning. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 42(2), 111–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biesta, G., Priestley, M., & Robinson, S. (2015). The role of beliefs in teacher agency. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 21(6), 624–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. de Ruyter, DJ. & Jos Kole J. (2010) Our teachers want to be the best: on the necessity of intra-professional reflection about moral ideals of teaching, Teachers and Teaching, 16(2), 207–218,  https://doi.org/10.1080/13540600903478474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Eteläpelto, A., Vähäsantanen, K., Hökkä, P., & Paloniemi, S. (2013). What is agency? Conceptualizing professional agency at work. Educational Research Review, 10, 45–65.Google Scholar
  5. Evans, K. (2007). Concepts of bounded agency in education, work and the personal lives of young adults. International Journal of Psychology, 42(2), 85–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gurney, L. (2015). EAP teachers’ conceptions of and interactions with professional development: A phenomenographic investigation (Unpublished doctoral dissertation), Deakin University, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  8. Hökkä, P., K. Vähäsantanen, & S. Mahlakaarto. 2017. Teacher Educators’ Collective Professional Agency and Identity: Transforming Marginality to Strength. Teaching and Teacher Education 63, 36–46.Google Scholar
  9. Lasky, S. (2005). A sociocultural approach to understanding teacher identity, agency and professional vulnerability in a context of secondary school reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(8), 899–916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lieberman, J. (2009). Reinventing teacher professional norms and identities: the role of lesson study and learning communities, Professional Development in Education, 35(1), 83–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Priestley, M., Edwards, R., Miller, K., & Priestley, A. (2012). Teacher agency in curriculum making: Agents of change and spaces for manoeuvre. Curriculum Inquiry, 43, 191–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ranson, S., Martin, J., Nixon, J. & McKeown, P. (1996). Towards a theory of learning. British Journal of Educational Studies 44(1), 9–26.Google Scholar
  13. Schwarz, B., & de Groot, R. (2011). Breakdowns between teachers, educators and designers in elaborating new technologies as precursors of change in education to dialogic thinking. In S. Ludvigsen, A. Lund, I. Rasmussen, & R. Saljo (Eds.), Learning across sites: New tools, infrastructures and practices. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Settersten Jr., R. A., & Gannon, L. (2005). Structure, Agency, and the Space Between: On the Challenges and Contradictions of a Blended View of the Life Course. Advances in Life Course Research, 10, 35–55.Google Scholar
  15. Simpson, A., Sang, G., Wood, J., Wang, Y., & Ye, B. (2018). A dialogue about teacher agency: Australian and Chinese perspectives. Teaching and Teacher Education, 75, 316–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Vermunt, J. D., & Endedijk, M. D. (2011). Patterns in teacher learning in different phases of the professional career. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(3), 294–302.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ruyu Hung
    • 1
  1. 1.National Chiayi UniversityChiayiTaiwan