Kirsi Pyhältö, Ph.D. is Full Professor of educational sciences in the Faculty of Educational Sciences, at the University of Oulu, Finland, and research director in the Centre for University Teaching and Learning, at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests include school development, teachers’ professional agency, and student and teacher well-being. She has over 140 publications that include refereed articles, book chapters, and textbooks.
Over the years Pyhältö has led several externally funded research projects on the above mentioned topics in collaboration with her colleagues. Currently, Pyhältö is leading two active research groups: Learning and Development in School http://www.learninginschool.fi/ and From a Ph.D. Student to an Academic Expert https://researchondoctoraleducation.wordpress.com/. Dr. Pyhältö is founding co-coordinator of EARLI Special Interest Group 24: Researcher Education and Careers. For a full list of publications see: https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/fi/persons/kirsipyhaltoe(677db559-b36b-44a4-90c6-d3e4bd87e94b)/publications.html
In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Dr. Pyhältö talks about her work on the role of teachers as active professional agents in school reforms. As she puts it:
Our recent research on teacher agency shows that a strong sense of professional agency contributes to school development in various ways. There is, for instance, emerging evidence that professional agency in the teacher community also promotes active and intentional teacher learning in the classroom. This implies that learning in and between the classroom and the professional community is one of the focal areas of teacher learning. Professional agency in the form of active and intentional teacher learning both in the classroom and in the professional community has shown to be associated with increased student engagement and academic success, reduced levels of early career in-service teachers’ attrition, teachers’ experimentation with innovative teaching methods and commitment in school development, and reduced levels of teacher stress. It can be argued that teachers’ sense of professional agency is a central determinant for the extent to which they are able to engage in continuous professional learning, contribute to school development, make a difference in their working environment, and continually develop sufficient strategies to cope with work-related stressors—to promote sustainable change in the society.
This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kim Fong Poon-McBrayer and Jennifer Groff.