What Teachers Think about Children's Autonomy at School

Keywords: teachers' beliefs, autonomy, personal educational outcomes


Twenty-one semi-structured interviews with school teachers were conducted in order to study the analysis of their beliefs about student autonomy and pedagogical practices that support its development. As a result, three groups of teachers' beliefs were identified. The typology of beliefs was based on the following criteria: content of beliefs, degree of their stability, practices used to support autonomy, attitudes towards school norms and requirements. The differences in the three groups of beliefs are presented as a continuum of meanings and practices, increasing from the first group to the third group according to all the criteria identified. From the first group to the third, the value of volitional functioning increases, the importance of control in pedagogical practices decreases, and the sphere of support for autonomy within the school but outside the classroom expands.


Download data is not yet available.


Abd-El-Khalick F., Lederman N.G. (2000) Improving Science Teachers’ Conceptions of Nature of Science: A Critical Review of the Literature. International Journal of Science Education, vol. 22, no 7, pp. 665–701. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500690050044044

Ambrose R. (2004) Initiating Change in Prospective Elementary School Teachers' Orientations to Mathematics Teaching by Building on Beliefs. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, vol. 7, June, pp. 91–119. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JMTE.0000021879.74957.63

Borgonovi F., Pál J. (2016) A Framework for the Analysis of Student Well-Being in the PISA 2015 Study: Being 15 in 2015. OECD Education Working Papers no 140. Paris: OECD. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jlpszwghvvb-en

Brownlee J., Chak A. (2007) Hong Kong Student Teachers' Beliefs about Children's Learning: Influences of a Cross-Cultural Early Childhood Teaching Experience. Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology, vol. 7, pp. 11–21.

Chong S.W., Reinders H. (2022) Autonomy of English Language Learners: A Scoping Review of Research and Practice. Language Teaching Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/13621688221075812

Cincotta-Segi A.R. (2011) The Big Ones Swallow the Small Ones. Or Do They? Language-in-Education Policy and Ethnic Minority Education in the Lao PDR. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 32, no 1, pp. 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2010.527343

Cordeiro P., Paixão P., Lens W., Lacante M., Luyckx K. (2016) The Portuguese Validation of the Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale: Concurrent and Longitudinal Relations to Well-Being and Ill-Being. Psychologica Belgica, vol. 56, no 3, pp. 193–209. https://doi.org/10.5334/pb.252

Deci E.L., Ryan R.M. (1987) The Support of Autonomy and the Control of Behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 53, no 6, pp. 1024–1037. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.53.6.1024

Dobryakova M.S., Yurchenko O.V., Novikova E.G. (2018) Navyki XXI veka v rossijskoy shkole.Vzglyad pedagogov i roditeley [Developing 21st Century Skills in Russian Schools: Teachers’ and Parents’ Views]. Moscow: HSE.

Ertmer P.A. (2005) Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration? Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 53, no 4, pp. 25–39. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02504683

Ertmer P.A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich A.T. (2010) Teacher Technology Change: How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, vol. 42, no 3, pp. 255–284. https://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2010.10782551

Farrell T.S., Lim P.C.P. (2005) Conceptions of Grammar Teaching: A Case Study of Teachers' Beliefs and Classroom Practices. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, vol. 9, no 2.

Fives H., Buehl M.M. (2012) Spring Cleaning for the “Messy” Construct of Teachers’ Beliefs: What Are They? Which Have Been Examined? What Can They Tell Us? APA Educational Psychology Handbook. Vol. 2: Individual Differences and Cultural and Contextual Factors (eds K.R. Harris, S. Graham, T. Urdan), Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 471–499. https://doi.org/10.1037/13274-019

Fives H., Gill M.G. (eds) (2014) International Handbook of Research on Teachers' Beliefs. New York, London: Routledge.

Froumin I.D., Dobryakova M.S., Barannikov K.A., Remorenko I. M. (2018) Universal'nye kompetentnosti i novaya gramotnost': chemu uchit' segodnya dlya uspekha zavtra [Key Competences and New Literacy: From Slogans to School Reality]. Moscow: HSE.

Gabillon Z. (2012) Revisiting Foreign Language Teacher Beliefs. Proceedings of the International Online Language Conference (November, 2012), pp. 190–203.

Gavrilenko P.A. (2022) Izmeneniya v predstavleniyakh i praktikakh shkol'nykh uchiteley kak osnova dlya samostoyatel'nogo dejstviya podrostka. Institutsional'ny podkhod [Changes in the Beliefs and Practices of School Teachers as the Basis for Independent Action of Adolescents. Institutional Approach]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie / Psychological Science and Education, vol. 27, no 3, pp. 39–49. https://doi.org/10.17759/pse.2022270304

Goodnough K.C., Hung W. (2008) Engaging Teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Adopting a Nine-Step Problem-Based Learning Model. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, vol. 2, no 2, Article no 6. https://doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1082

Green T.F. (1971) The Activities of Teaching. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Grolnick W.S., Pomerantz E.M. (2009) Issues and Challenges in Studying Parental Control: Toward a New Conceptualization. Child Development Perspectives, vol. 3, no 3, pp. 165–170. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2009.00099.x

Hall L.A. (2005) Teachers and Content Area Reading: Attitudes, Beliefs and Change. Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 21, no 4, pp. 403–414. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2005.01.009

Ispa J.M. (1995) Ideas about Infant and Toddler Care among Russian Child Care Teachers, Mothers, and University Students. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, vol. 10, no 3, pp. 359–379. https://doi.org/10.1016/0885-2006(95)90012-8

Kagan D.M. (1992) Implication of Research on Teacher Belief. Educational Psychologist, vol. 27, no 1, pp. 65–90. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep2701_6

Korthagen F., Vasalos A. (2005) Levels in Reflection: Core Reflection as a Means to Enhance Professional Growth. Teachers and Teaching, vol. 11, no 1, pp. 47–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/1354060042000337093

Kvale S. (2003) Issledovatel'skoe interv'yu [Interviews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing]. Moscow: Smysl.

Laux K. (2019) Changing High School Science Teacher Beliefs on Student Voice through Action Research. USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Available at: https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/etd/7838 (accessed 20 December 2023).

Lasky S. (2005) A Sociocultural Approach to Understanding Teacher Identity, Agency and Professional Vulnerability in a Context of Secondary School Reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 21, no 8, pp. 899–916. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2005.06.003

Leavy A.M., McSorley F.A., Boté L.A. (2007) An Examination of What Metaphor Construction Reveals about the Evolution of Preservice Teachers’ Beliefs about Teaching and Learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 23, no 7, pp. 1217–1233 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2006.07.016

Lederman N.G., Abd‐El‐Khalick F., Bell R.L., Schwartz R.S. (2002) Views of Nature of Science Questionnaire: Toward Valid and Meaningful Assessment of Learners' Conceptions of Nature of Science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 39, no 6, pp. 497–521. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.10034

Leijen Ä., Pedaste M., Lepp L. (2020) Teacher Agency Following the Ecological Model: How It Is Achieved and How It Could Be Strengthened by Different Types of Reflection. British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 68, no 3, pp. 295–310.

Lipponen L., Kumpulainen K. (2011) Acting as Accountable Authors: Creating Interactional Spaces for Agency Work in Teacher Education. Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 27, no 5, pp. 812–819. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2011.01.001

Luksha P., Cubista J., Laszlo A., Popovich M., Ninenko I. (2018) Educational Ecosystems for Societal Transformation. Amersfoort: Global Education Futures.

Luyckx K., Vansteenkiste M., Goossens L., Duriez B. (2009) Basic Need Satisfaction and Identity Formation: Bridging Self-Determination Theory and Process-Oriented Identity Research. Journal of Counseling Psychology, vol. 56, no 2, pp. 276–288. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015349

OECD (2021) Beyond Academic Learning: First Results from the Survey of Social and Emotional Skills. Paris: OECD. https://doi.org/10.1787/92a11084-en

Pajares M.F. (1992) Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning up a Messy Construct. Review of Educational Research, vol. 62, no 3, pp. 307–332. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543062003307

Patall E.A., Zambrano J. (2019) Facilitating Student Outcomes by Supporting Autonomy: Implications for Practice and Policy. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 6, no 2, pp. 115–122. https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732219862572

Philipp R.A. (2007) Mathematics Teachers’ Beliefs and Affect. Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning: A Project of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ed. F.K. Lester), Charlotte, NC: Information Age, pp. 257–315.

Polivanova K.N., Bochaver A.A. (2022) Vozmozhna li detskaya samostoyatel´nost´ v sovremennoy shkole? [Is Students’ Autonomy Possible at Contemporary School?]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie / Psychological Science and Education, vol. 27, no 3, pp. 6–15. https://doi.org/10.17759/pse.2022270301

Polivanova K.N., Bochaver A.A., Pavlenko K.V., Sivak E.V. (2020) Obrazovanie za stenami shkoly. Kak roditeli proektiruyut obrazovatel'noe prostranstvo detey [Education Beyond School Hours: How Parents Are Designing Educational Spaces for Children]. Moscow: HSE. https://doi.org/10.17323/978-5-7598-1986-8

Reeve J. (2009) Why Teachers Adopt a Controlling Motivating Style Toward Students and How They Can Become More Autonomy Supportive. Educational Psychologist, vol. 44, no 3, pp. 159–175. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00461520903028990

Reeve J., Deci E.L., Ryan R.M. (2004) Self-Determination Theory: A Dialectical Framework for Understanding Socio-Cultural Influences on Student Motivation. Big Theories Revisited (eds D.M. Mclnerney, S. Van Etten), Greenwich, CT: Information Age, pp. 31–60.

Reeve J., Jang H. (2006) What Teachers Say and Do to Support Students’ Autonomy During a Learning Activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 98, no 1, pp. 209–218. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.98.1.209

Richardson V. (1996) The Role of Attitudes and Beliefs in Learning to Teach. Handbook of Research on Teacher Education (eds J.P. Sikula, T.J. Buttery, E. Guyton), New York, NY: Macmillan Library Reference, vol. 2, pp. 102–119.

Rokeach M. (1968) A Theory of Organization and Change Within Value-Attitude Systems. Journal of Social Issues, vol. 24, no 1, pp. 13–33. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1968.tb01466.x

Ryan R.M., Deci E.L., Grolnick W.S. (1995) Autonomy, Relatedness, and the Self: Their Relation to Development and Psychopathology. Developmental Psychopathology. Vol. 1. Theory and Methods (eds D. Cicchetti, D.J. Cohen), New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 618–655.

Saldaña J. (2014) Coding and Analysis Strategies. The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research (ed. P. Leavy), Oxford, NY: Oxford University, pp. 580–598.

Sidneva A.N. (2017) Problematika umeniya uchit´sya v otechestvennoy psikhologii obrazovaniya: obzor osnovnykh kontseptsiy [The Learning to Learn Problem in Russian Educational Psychology: Main Approaches]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie / Psychological Science and Education, vol. 22, no 6, pp. 56–67. https://doi.org/10.17759/pse.2017220605

Singh P. (1996) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 18, no 1, pp. 119–124.

Skott J. (2014) The Promises, Problems, and Prospects of Research on Teachers’ Beliefs. International Handbook of Research on Teachers' Beliefs (eds H. Fives, M.G. Gill), New York, London: Routledge pp. 13–30.

Skott J. (2013) Understanding the Role of the Teacher in Emerging Classroom Practices: Searching for Patterns of Participation. ZDM Mathematics Education, vol. 45, no 4, pp. 547–559. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11858-013-0500-z

Soenens B., Vansteenkiste M., Van Petegem S. (eds) (2017) Autonomy in Adolescent Development: Towards Conceptual Clarity. London: Psychology Press. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315636511

Sorokin P.S., Froumin I.D. (2020) Problema "struktura/dejstvie" v XXI v.: izmeneniya v sotsialʼnoy realʼnosti i vyvody dlya issledovatelʼskoy povestki [“Structure-Agency” Problem in the XXI Century: Social Development and Research Implications]. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya /Sociological Studies , no 7, pp. 27–36. https://doi.org/10.31857/S013216250009571-1

Spillane J.P., Reiser B.J., Reimer T. (2002) Policy Implementation and Cognition: Reframing and Refocusing Implementation Research. Review of Educational Research, vol. 72, no 3, pp. 387–431. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543072003387

Vähäsantanen K. (2015) Professional Agency in the Stream of Change: Understanding Educational Change and Teachers’ Professional Identities. Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 47, April, pp. 1–12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2014.11.006

Vansteenkiste M., Simons J., Lens W., Sheldon K.M., Deci E.L. (2004) Motivating Learning, Performance, and Persistence: The Synergistic Effects of Intrinsic Goal Contents and Autonomy-Supportive Contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 87, no 2, pp. 246–260. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.87.2.246

Wheatley K.F. (2002) The Potential Benefits of Teacher Efficacy Doubts for Educational Reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 18, no 1, pp. 5–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-051X(01)00047-6

Yerrick R.K., Hoving T.J. (2003) One Foot on the Dock and One Foot on the Boat: Differences among Preservice Science Teachers’ Interpretations of Field-Based Science Methods in Culturally Diverse Contexts. Science Education, vol. 87, no 3, pp. 390–418. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.10057

Zeichner K.M., Gore J.M. (1990) Teacher Socialization. Handbook of Research on Teacher Education (eds W.R. Houston, M. Haberman, J.P. Sikula), New York, NY: Macmillan, pp. 329–348.

Zimmerman B.J., Schunk D.H. (2001) Self-Regulated Learning and Academic Achievement: Theoretical Perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.

Zuckerman G.A., Chudinava E.V. (2015) Chto takoe umenie uchit´sya i kak ego izmeryat´ [What Is the Ability to Learn and How to Measure It]. Voprosy Psychologii, no 1, pp. 3–14.

How to Cite
GavrilenkoPolina A. 2024. “What Teachers Think about Children’s Autonomy at School”. Voprosy Obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no. 1 (April). https://doi.org/10.17323/vo-2024-16909.
Research Articles