Roundtable Discussion: Student Teacher E-portfolios: The emergence of student agency through structured dialogue and critical engagement

Helen Coker, Morag Redford

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E-portfolio’s for student teachers provide a means to present work and evidence initial teaching standards. The e-portfolio at the centre of this research was designed around an ecological understanding of agency with the aim develop individual agency through structured dialogue and critical engagement with practice. The e-portfolio sits in a programme which perceived learning as a social activity, situated in a cultural world. Students’ current actions were considered through engagement with their past experiences and awareness of their future orientations. The researchers worked with the framework for ecological agency (Priestley et al. 2015) to explore the emergence of student agency across a one year Postgraduate Teaching (Primary) programme in Scotland. The research was carried out in a Federated Institution in a rural area, with a dispersed student group, taught through a blended learning approach. The eportfolio was used to evidence the Standard for Provisional Registration (SPR) (GTCS, 2012). Through embedding learning activities which engaged with the iterational, practical / evaluative and projective elements of agency (Priestley et al. 2015), the e-portfolio provided a structure to support critical reflection and the development of the students’ professional identity as teachers. The 2015- 16 student cohort (60) and tutors (6) participated in the study. Data was collected through individual interviews, focus groups and an analysis of e-portfolio entries. The outcomes of the research suggest that the use of structured dialogue and critical engagement through the framework of the e-portfolio support the students through the three stages of teacher agency proposed by Priestley et al. (2015). The engagement with life histories and personal values in dialogic triad activities scaffolded the development of analytical skills within an e-portfolio environment. The material collated in the e-portfolios evidenced student engagement with the SPR (GTCS 2012) and demonstrated the initial development of professional agency. The analysis of student/ tutor dialogue illustrates the tensions between the role of the Standard in assessing competence and supporting the development of professional agency. The presentation of the research within a roundtable will enable the audience to discuss the research outcomes along with the dialogic processes utilised to support the e-portfolio.

The roundtable will address the three stages of agency development: iterational, practical/ evaluative and projective. The first part will be a presentation (20 minutes) of the methodology and outcomes of the research highlighting the environmental conditions used to engage students. The second a group activity using extracts of vignettes of enacted agency from the data to support discussion of engagement with the Standard and the use of technology to mediate the dialogic process (20 minutes). These discussions directly inform the third part of the workshop where we utilise the teacher agency framework, through a poster based activity, to ask in what way can we work with the tensions identified in the research to inform future research and future practice (20 minutes).

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration, GTCS, Edinburgh. Available online at:
aspx [accessed 31.01.16]
Priestly, M., Biesta, G. and Robinson, S. (2015) Teacher Agency: An Ecological Approach, Bloomsbury, London


ConferenceAustralian Teacher Education Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleATEA
Internet address


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