Malaysian English Language Teachers’ Agency in Using Digital Technologies During the Pandemic: A Narrative Inquiry
With the closure of schools due to imposed lockdowns in many parts of the world, teachers had to make a rapid transition from teaching in physical classrooms to online teaching, even though they had little to no experience teaching online prior to the pandemic. Adopting a narrative inquiry approach, this study aims
to explore the factors that influence Malaysian English language teachers’ professional agency in adapting to online teaching. Data were collected via interviews with ten secondary school teachers from rural and urban schools. The findings show how factors such as teachers’ perceptions of the affordances of digital tools and existing support structures influence teachers’ enactment of agency in online teaching and learning. They also demonstrate teachers' agentic potential to adapt their lessons to suit their learners’ needs. These findings suggest the need for teacher professional development programs to recognize teacher agency in the design of future training modules. This involves providing a differentiated training curriculum that can support and sustain language teachers’ development organically by taking into consideration their existing technology skills, teaching experiences and work contexts.
Aguliera, E., & Nightengale-Lee, B. (2020). Emergency remote teaching across urban and rural contexts:
perspectives on educational equity. Information and Learning Sciences, 121(5/6), 471–478. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-04-2020-0100
Anderson, T., Liam, R., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer
conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, jaln, 5 (20), 1–17.
Bailey, D. R., & Lee, A. R. (2020). Learning from experience in the midst of covid-19: benefits, challenges, and
strategies in online teaching. Computer-Assisted Language Learning Electronic Journal, 21(2), 178–198.
Biesta, G., Priestley, M., & Robinson, S. (2015). The role of beliefs in teacher agency. Teachers and teaching,
(6), 624–640. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2015.1044325
Budianto, Langgeng, and Yudhi Arifani. (2021). Utilizing WhatsApp-driven learning during covid-19 outbreak: efl users’ perceptions and practices. Computer-Assisted Language Learning, 22(1), 264–281.
Butler, M., & Fawkes, S. (1999). Videoconferencing for language learners. Language Learning Journal, 19(1), 46–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/09571739985200091
Carrillo, C., & Flores, M. A. (2020). covid-19 and teacher education: a literature review of online teaching and
learning practices. European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 466–487. https://doi.org/10.1080/02619768.2020.1821184
Carville, S., & Mitchell, D. R. (2000). ‘It’s a bit like Star Trek’: The effectiveness of video conferencing. Innovations
in education and training international, 37(1), 42–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/135580000362070
Cheung, A. (2021). Language teaching during a pandemic: A case study of zoom use by a secondary esl teacher
in Hong Kong. RELC Journal, 0033688220981784. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033688220981784
Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry. Experience and story in qualitative research.
Compton, L. K. (2009). Preparing language teachers to teach language online: A look at skills, roles, and responsibilities. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 22(1), 73–99. https://doi.org/10.1080/09588220802613831
Daniel, J. (2020). Education and the covid-19 pandemic. Prospects, 49(1), 91–96. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09464-3
Dicte (2019). Pedagogical, ethical, attitudinal and technical dimensions of digital competence in teacher
education. Developing ICT in Teacher Education Erasmus+project. https://dicte.oslomet.no/dicte/
Edwards, A. (2015). Recognising and realising teachers’ professional agency. Teachers and Teaching, 21(6),
Egbert, J. (2020). The new normal?: A pandemic of task engagement in language learning. Foreign language
annals, 53(2), 314–319.
Etherington, K., & Bridges, N. (2011). Narrative case study research: On endings and six session reviews. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 11(1), 11–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/14733145.2011.546072
Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998). What is agency? American Journal of Sociology, 103(4), 962–1023. https://doi.org/10.1086/231294
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2003). A theory of critical inquiry in online distance education.
Handbook of distance education, 1, 113–127.
Gudmundsdottir, G. B., & Hathaway, D. M. (2020). “We always make it work”: Teachers’ agency in the time of crisis. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), 239–250.
Hollway, W. & Jefferson, T. (2000) Doing qualitative research differently. Sage Publications. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849209007
Halvorsen, Ø. W., Eide, L., & Ulvik, M. (2019). Extension and remodelling of teachers’ perceived professional
space. Teachers and Teaching, 25(8), 1030–1042. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2019.1702519
Hampel, R., & Stickler, U. (2012). The use of videoconferencing to support multimodal interaction in an online
language classroom. ReCALL, 24(2), 116–137. https://doi.org/10.1017/S095834401200002X
Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020). The difference between emergency remote
teaching and online learning. Educause review, 27, 1–12.
Husu, J. (2000). Supporting remote communities with a shared virtual classroom: A view of social contexts. Journal of Information Techology for Teacher Education, 9(2), 255–268. https://doi.org/10.1080/14759390000200085
Imants, J., & Van der Wal, M. M. (2020). A model of teacher agency in professional development and school reform. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 52(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2019.1604809
Jenkins, G. (2020). Teacher agency: The effects of active and passive responses to curriculum change. The
Australian Educational Researcher, 47(1), 167–181. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-019-00334-2
Kaden, U. (2020). covid-19 school closure-related changes to the professional life of a K–12 teacher. Education
Sciences, 10(6), 165. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10060165
Lawson, T., Comber, C., Gage, J., & Cullum‐Hanshaw, A. (2010). Images of the future for education? Videoconferencing: A literature review. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 19(3), 295–314. https://doi.org/10.1080/1475939X.2010.513761
Leijen, Ä., Pedaste, M., & Lepp, L. (2020). Teacher agency following the ecological model: How it is achieved
and how it could be strengthened by different types of reflection. British Journal of Educational Studies,
(3), 295–310. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071005.2019.1672855
Mehta, R., & Aguilera, E. (2020). A critical approach to humanizing pedagogies in online teaching and
learning. The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, 37(3), 109–120. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJILT-10-2019-0099
Oolbekkink-Marchand, H. W., Hadar, L. L., Smith, K., Helleve, I., & Ulvik, M. (2017). Teachers’ perceived
professional space and their agency. Teaching and Teacher Education, 62, 37–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.11.005
Priestley, M., Biesta, G., & Robinson, S. (2015). Teacher agency: What is it and why does it matter?
In J. Evers & R. Kneyber (Eds.), Flip the system (pp. 134–148). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315678573
Richards, L., & Morse, J. M. (2013). Readme first for a user’s guide to qualitative methods. Sage.
Singh, C. K. S., Singh, T. S. M., Abdullah, N. Y., Moneyam, S., Ismail, M. R., Tek, O. E., ... & Singh, J. K.
S. (2020). Rethinking English language teaching through Telegram, Whatsapp, Google Classroom and Zoom. Sys Rev Pharm, 11(11), 45–54.
Smyth, W., & Fay, J. (1994). Video conferencing between schools in Northern Ireland and schools in France.
North Eastern Education and Library Board.
Taylor, C. (1991). The ethics of authenticity. Harvard University Press.
Thumvichit, A. (2021). English language teaching in times of crisis: Teacher agency in response to the pandemic-
forced online education. Teaching English with Technology, 21(2), 14–37.
Toom, A., Pyhältö, K., & Rust, F. O. C. (2015). Teachers’ professional agency in contradictory times. Teachers and
Teaching, 21(6), 615–623. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2015.1044334
Trust, T., Carpenter, J. P., Krutka, D. G., & Kimmons, R. (2020). #RemoteTeaching & #RemoteLearning:
Educator tweeting during the covid-19 pandemic. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), 151–159. https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/216094/
Vähäsantanen, K., Paloniemi, S., Hökkä, P., & Eteläpelto, A. (2017). Agentic perspective on fostering workrelated
learning. Studies in Continuing Education, 39(3), 251–267. https://doi.org/10.1080/0158037X.2017.1310097
Wang, C. C., & Geale, S. K. (2015). The power of story: Narrative inquiry as a methodology in nursing research.
International journal of nursing sciences, 2(2), 195–198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnss.2015.04.014
Wang, Y. (2006). Negotiation of meaning in desktop videoconferencing-supported distance language learning.
ReCALL, 18(1), 122–145.
Zainal, A. Z., & Zainuddin, S. Z. (2020). Technology adoption in Malaysian schools: An analysis of national
ict in education policy initiatives. Digital Education Review (37), 172–194.
Copyright (c) 2021 Íkala
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.