Award Date

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Katrina Liu

Second Committee Member

Jane McCarthy

Third Committee Member

Iesha Jackson

Fourth Committee Member

Stefani Relles

Number of Pages



Teacher agency is the temporal and ecological understanding of a teacher’s capacity to make choices, take principled action, and enact positive change. A teacher’s agency relies on context and is measured on a continuum, with agency contingent on the reciprocal relationship between the individual and the structural environment. Structure influences teachers’ professional practice, but teachers must reciprocally influence power relationships within the structural school context to be successful and active contributors to the education process. Teacher agency is an essential dimension of effective professional practice because of its ability to highlight the required skillset of successful teachers. Because preservice teachers are expected to operate with immediate agency once they become full-time teachers, it is necessary to explore their influences on power relationships in the teacher education context. The purpose of this study was to explore preservice teacher’s perceived agency to influence power relationships with course instructors, what actions they take to enact agency, and to identify reasons why they perceived agency and took action the way they did. Guided by a subject-centered sociocultural perspective, the study used a multiple case study method for the exploration. Findings suggested preservice teachers perceived agency closely related to the individual and her/his prior experiences and identity. Findings also indicated structural enabling and constraining conditions of preservice teacher agency influencing power relationships with teacher educators, for example, whether or not an open pathway of communication exists. Discussion indicated certain commonalities and differences across the cases which compared and contrasted to existing preservice teacher agency literature. The study further highlighted the importance of relationships between teacher educators and preservice teachers and has implications for the teacher education structure, teacher educators, and future research.


Power Relationships; Preservice Teacher Agency; Teacher Agency; Teacher Education


Teacher Education and Professional Development

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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