students smiling in class

Agency, that is, an individual’s capacity to make choices and act on them in way that is aligned with their values and desired outcome, is considered important for a rewarding and fulfilling university experience and a sense of wellbeing. With concerns over HE student wellbeing generating significant sector-wide discussion, we find agency and self-efficacy, in this context, a learner’s belief in their ability to achieve a goal (Bandura, 1997), valuable concepts. Potentially they are an avenue to equipping learners to overcome the various challenges they face and to moving towards a better understanding of well-being in our diverse student body.

We are also exploring how agency, both individual and collective, can help us make sense of teaching staff responses to contextual demands placed on them by current external pressures and our internal experience of large scale curriculum redevelopment and pedagogical transformation. Questions we are interested in include 'which factors affect teaching staff’s capacity to contribute to achieving the outcomes they desire for their students and themselves?'.

Research around university teacher agency is being undertaken in collaboration with other members of the EuroHub, a group formed in early 2018 with the goal of being a European hub for research and innovation in higher education.

As well as through more formal research projects, these ideas are informed by, and in turn inform, discussions amongst university teaching staff through our MEd in University Learning and Teaching and Educational Development Unit workshops.