A typology of agency in new generation learning environments: emerging relational, ecological and new material considerations

Jennifer Charteris, Dianne Smardon
  • Pedagogy Culture and Society, June 2017, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/14681366.2017.1345975

A typology of agency in new generation learning environments.

What is it about?

The article begins with a consideration of new generation learning environments, learner agency, and an account of research conducted with school leaders from Aotearoa/New Zealand. A typology of agency is presented and links are made with school leaders’ comments on agency in new generation learning environment settings. An argument is proposed for a broad understanding of agency within new generation learning environments, how this understanding might prompt a rethinking of learner agency and ultimately, enlarge learning possibilities.

Why is it important?

New generation learning environments (NGLE) as innovative learning spaces are ‘characterised by polycentric room designs, infused information and communication technologies, flexibility brought about by moveable walls and other agile interior elements, a variety of “student friendly” furniture, and ready access to resources’ (Imms, Cleveland, and Fisher 2016, 6). Inasmuch as learners are conceived of as acting agentically in new generation learning environments, schools are evaluated on how they enable students to ‘take control of their learning, develop meta-cognitive skills, self-regulate, and develop self-efficacy and agency’ (New Zealand Government 2016, 33). Therefore, the article makes a timely contribution as students are expected to act agentically in NGLE.


Dr Jennifer Charteris
University of New England

As demonstrated here, within new generation spaces there can be a range of interpretations of agency. The main contribution of this paper has been to foreground an agency typology. When educators allude to agency in new generation learning spaces they can be explicit about what ontologies are evoked and how pedagogical practices constrain, constitute or co-produce agency.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Jennifer Charteris and Ms Dianne M Smardon