Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

They understand what it takes: teacher agency in universities

When does teacher agency occur in the university context, and how is this related to teaching?

2020 - 2024
Max Kusters


  • M.C.J. Kusters MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. R.M. van der Rijst - supervisor
  • dr. A.J. de Vetten - co-supervisor

What do university teachers say about their capability to influence their teaching and education? Teacher agency is proposed to be a key capability not only for fostering student learning but also for enduring professional development, collaborative teacher learning and development of the organization.

Social relevance

Agentic teachers are critically engaged to their education, want to develop education in constructive ways leading to better student outcomes. Teacher agency develops in interaction, both between teacher and student as between colleagues.

Scientific relevance

Agency is intensively researched, and in more recent literature also in the educational context. Agency is connected to students, organizations and teachers. In this project about Teacher Agency in universities, we aim to extent the literature with a broader view on agency in a context where teaching is not seen as a priority.

The project and research questions

This project intends to have four scientific publications in well-known educational journals. The four articles will result in a dissertation. The research questions of the four studies are:

  1. How can teachers’ agency be measured in a reliable and valid way among Dutch university teachers?
  2. How is teacher agency and teaching quality related, and is this relation reciprocal?
  3. How do teachers characterize their agency among different situations?
  4. How is teacher agency related to organizational factors?

Materials and methods study 1

In order to develop a questionnaire for measuring Teacher Agency in universities, in-depth interviews will take place. The results of the interviews provide us to adapt different questionnaire scales form Finnish studies, to our context. 

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