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EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
Volume 13, Issue 6 (June 2017), pp. 1749-1763

DOI: 10.12973/eurasia.2017.00696a

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Research Article

Published online on Apr 18, 2017

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Life Sciences Teachers Negotiating Professional Development Agency in Changing Curriculum Times

Asheena Singh-Pillay & Michael Anthony Samuel


This article probes teacher responses to three curricular reform initiatives from a South African situated contextual perspective. It focuses on Life Sciences teachers who have initially reported feeling overwhelmed by this rapidly changing curriculum environment: adopting and re-adapting to the many expected shifts. The research question posed is: How do teachers negotiate and reinterpret their professional roles and responsibilities in the continually changing environment? A qualitative research design engaged dialogically with 8 Life Science teachers from moderately resourced schools located North of Durban generating insights that were central to their shifting agency of their teacher professional development (TPD). Our findings show these LS teachers are resilient to the changing curriculum times; their collegiality and agentic actions allows for divisions of labour, sustainable ties and strategies for walking the talk. The article concludes by discussing whether these agentic forms of TPD can be generated across differing contexts that are less well-enabled. When productive TPD voice is not activated, curriculum reform paradoxically contributes to (re)producing the existing inequities of context.

Keywords: agency, curriculum, negotiation, teacher, professional development, voice

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