Repositioning teachers as assessors

Compromised aspirations and contested agency


  • Wook Namgung University of Jyväskylä
  • Josephine Moate
  • Maria Ruohotie-Lyhty


teacher agency, assessment, ecological approach, aspiration, Korean secondary English teachers


The global trend to emphasise assessment for learning brings up the issue of repositioning teachers in assessment. The contemporary curricular policy reforms encourage teachers to take an agentic role in assessment, but multiple dimensions of the environment affect its realisation. Drawing on an ecological approach to teacher agency, this empirical study investigated how Korean secondary English teachers (KSETs) perceive and enact their own teacher agency in assessment within the ecosystem of Korean education. The dataset for the study comprises semi-structured interviews with 15 KSETs. The interview questions involved the main themes such as personal experiences over the life course regarding assessment and professional practice in assessment. The findings from the thematic analysis indicate that past environment like the excessive emphasis on high-stakes standardised testing still affected teacher perception and teacher agency in the present assessment practices directed by a curricular reform, and the incongruence the teachers experienced between past and present environment significantly influenced the enactment of teacher agency. The findings suggest teachers aspire to enact teacher agency regarding assessment through the critical interpretation of their iterative experiences, present affordances, and projective orientation. Aspirations can be compromised, however, through negotiations with the environmental conditions in assessment practice, and teachers struggle to enact teacher agency leading to ecological transformation. This study concludes with practical implications to enhance teacher agency in assessment, theoretical implications regarding the conceptual expansion of the ecological perspective and suggestions for future research.



2021-09-07 — Updated on 2021-12-22


How to Cite

Namgung, W., Moate, J., & Ruohotie-Lyhty , M. (2021). Repositioning teachers as assessors: Compromised aspirations and contested agency. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 15(2), 49–69. (Original work published September 7, 2021)