Agency for Learning

Agency is inherent in students’ ability to regulate, control, and monitor their own learning. A learners’ effectiveness in regulating their cognitive, affective, and behavioural processes as they interact within the learning environment is critical to their academic success. Agency for Learning (AFL; Code, 2010) is a necessary extension of social cognitive theory as it situates agentic capabilities as mediating factors between the effects of personal, behavioral, and social-environmental aspects on the self. Individual agency is expressed or constrained in different contexts for different reasons, thus it is important to consider agency from the perspective of the learner in the context of learning – in situ. AFL posits that agency “is an emergent entity that is manifested in individual abilities to interact with personal, behavioral, environmental, and social factors in the learning context” (Code, 2010, p. 2). Ultimately, agency is an emergent capability that is intentional, self-generated, and has external sources of influence. Emergence refers to “the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns, and properties during the process of self-organization” (Goldstein, 1999, p. 49). A capability is emergent if it has several component parts but is irreducible with respect to them (O’Connor and Wong, 2002; Martin, 2003). Since agency emerges through self-generated intentional action; it can only be explained by the interaction between its component influences. These component influences are represented by an individual’s intentionality, forethought, self-regulation, and self-efficacy. Agency and identity are central tenets of ALIVE Lab, within Applied Design Skills and Technologies (ADST) and STEM education broadly.

Selected themes of our research include:

Technology and its Applications to Educational Contexts:

  • Critical examination of learning environments in ADST, STEM, and MHRT (Code et al., 2020);
  • Democratization of knowledge through social media and technology (Code, 2013);
  • Design and validation of virtual environments for assessment (Code & Zap, 2017);
  • Critical pedagogy and the psychosocial impacts of technology (Code et al., in press).

Methodological Innovation for Understanding Self-Processes and Agency:

  • Through measurement (Code, 2020) and learning analytics (Code, in press);
  • As education through public discourse and knowledge translation (Code, 2019);
  • As the object of study through autoethnography (Code, 2019).

Jillianne Code, PhD

Principal Investigator

Made possible with funding from

Sample Publications


Code, J; Zap, N; Ralph, R

Academic success online: Mediating the effects of personality and self-efficacy in online learning Journal Article

In: International Journal on E-Learning, vol. 20, iss. 4, pp. 377-410, 2021.

Links | BibTeX


Code, J

Agency for learning: Intention, motivation, self-efficacy and self-regulation Journal Article

In: Frontiers in Education, vol. 5, pp. 19, 2020.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX


Code, J; Zap, N

A preliminary exploration of the effects of personality and self-efficacy for online learning in higher education Proceeding

AACE edmedia + innovate learning, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2019.


Code, J

Design and Validation of the Agency for Learning Questionnaire Across Multiple Contexts Presentation

06.04.2019, (Canadian Society for the Study of Education Annual Meeting, Vancouver, Canada).

Abstract | BibTeX


Code, J; Hatzipanagos, S

Open badges in online learning environments: Peer feedback as an engagement intervention for promoting agency Proceeding

AACE World Conference on Educational Media and Technology, Vancouver, BC, 2016.


Hatzipanagos, S; Code, J

Open badges in online learning environments: Peer feedback and formative assessment as an engagement intervention for promoting agency Journal Article

In: Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 127-142, 2016.


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