Learner Agency & the Instructional Core

Learner Agency is widely discussed in education circles with growing numbers of educators producing articles on the benefits of building the capacity of learners.

What is necessary to develop a sense of agency?


Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A.(1998). What is agency? American Journal of Sociology, 103, 9621023.10.1086/ajs.1998.103.issue-4

Three main ideas which enable agency appear to be consistent across all articles I’ve read:

  1. Is in the present- the now
  2. Personal experience and the importance of a wide variety of experience
  3. Setting goals and knowing how to achieve these goal

At my last school we investigated Learner Agency and how we could develop agency within the school program. Equally, around this time I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Southern Metropolitan Region Principals’ Instructional Rounds program. Whenever discussing learning in schools we referred to the Instructional Core. The Instructional Core is: Student-Teacher-Task and Interaction. Understanding the core and using Instructional Rounds protocols highlighted the importance of  planning to enable agency.

The Instructional Core is very relevant to agency. Learning experiences need to be designed to promote agency.

Agency IB

The above IB document is an excellent place to start as it encourages schools to look at their current practice. When we know where we are, we can plan how we move forward.

Cheers Nina

Next Post: Writing strategies which promote learner agency.



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2 responses to “Learner Agency & the Instructional Core

  1. Kararose Jespersen

    I find it challenging for some students to develop Learner Agency, specially when they are not working toward grade level outcomes. I do agree with with your statement about “Learning experiences [needing] to be designed to promote agency.” However, I do find this challenging at times to do in my classroom. I have such diverse need in my grade three classroom that it can be overwhelming to try and created agency in all students.

    • nina davis

      Hi Kararose, Firstly, thank you for commenting as I often get emails. I really like this document … https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/early-years-agency.pdf
      I think starting slowly is the key. Learner Agency takes time to develop. Maybe, work with the students who you feel are ready and they can model to others. In my previous school we (the staff) unpacked what we thought agency was first and then planned around this and used resources from the IB.
      Cheers Nina

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