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Browsing by Subject "professional agency"

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  • Mattila, Helmi (2022)
    This qualitative study examined professional agency during teacher studies in the context of part time special education. The study aims to answer following questions: How does professional agency occur in the context of practical training in teacher studies? What kind of dimensions does professional agency consist of and how do these dimensions relate to each other? Agency can broadly be described as an ability to act intentionally defined by autonomy, will, freedom and choice. Professional agency occurs when professional subjects make choices, use their possibilities to influence and take a stand in ways that effect their work and professional identities. Professional agency is implemented purposefully, and it is defined by dynamic factors of the workplace. Professional agency does not occur merely as accommodation to external demands but also as realistic and critical understanding of personal boundaries and acting in accordance with them. Professional agency has been suggested as a tool for teachers to face educational reforms as it has been seen to enable cultivation of new work forms. Previous research claims that teachers’ agency should be defined in more detail. Teacher training and first years at work are significant phases in cultivating professional agency, yet research in this context is narrow. In addition, Finnish studies regarding part time special education are few. Research material consisted of 13 reports written by teacher students. Reports were produced as a part of the compulsory practical training in the pedagogical studies of special education teacher training between spring 2020 – fall 2021. The study was conducted using qualitative theory driven content analysis. In the context of special education practical training professional agency manifested in four dimensions that were agency in the workplace framework, agency in the immediate social community, agency as identity work and agency as emotional work. Furthermore, professional agency occurred in two levels, community level and individual level, within which agency has divergent goals. At the community level professional agency appeared to aim for a functional work community and pupils’ learning. At the individual level it appeared to aim for teacher students’ professional development and personal wellbeing. Results suggest that interaction in the immediate social community and emotional factors are central to the enactment of professional agency. Results are in accordance with previous studies that claim professional agency to manifest in the framework of dynamic factors at both community level and individual level. The results of this study suggest that more research on the relation between community and individual level as well as on the importance of immediate social community and emotional factors are needed.