Teacher autonomy and teacher agency: a comparative study in Brazilian and Norwegian lower secondary education
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionCurriculum Journal. 2020, 31 (1), 115-131. 10.1002/curj.3
Teacher autonomy and teacher agency are positively related to teachers’ motivation and engagement in teaching. This paper combines the concepts of teacher autonomy and teacher agency to study how Brazilian and Norwegian lower secondary teachers respond to an accountability system marked by a centralised outcomes-based curriculum and testing. Teacher autonomy concerns the relations between teachers’ scope of action and the state’s role in providing resources and regulations that extend or constrain this scope of action. Teacher agency refers to teachers’ professional action based on their perceptions and experiences of their scope of action as they navigate accountability to respond to educational dilemmas at hand. The findings show that teachers navigate policies in a variety of forms to fit their needs and beliefs and those of their students. Brazilian teachers have a constrained scope of action and possibilities for achieving agency in comparison with their Norwegian counterparts. Norwegian teachers also have their individual autonomy constrained by extended state control over the curriculum and testing. However, the practice of collective work opens up for the exercise of agency because of the possibility of reflection and collective construction of teaching plans and strategies that frame and legitimise teaching work
© 2020 The Authors. The Curriculum Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Educational Research Association.
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