Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Autonomy-Supportive Teachers: How They Teach and Motivate Students

Annotation created by Melissa Han

Reeve,J., Bolt,E.,&Cai,Y.(1999). Autonomy-Supportive Teachers: How They Teach and Motivate Students.Journal of Educational Psychology,91(3),537-548.


~”Teacher’s motivating style: relatedness provided by teacher provided involvement (care, acceptance), competence nurtured by teacher provided structure(optimal challenge, performance feedback), and self-determination was nurtured by teacher provided autonomy support (choices; shared decision making)” (538).

~”Autonomy-supportive teachers listened more, encouraged student initiative with the instructional materials, asked questions about the students’ wants, replied to questions, and offered empathic-taking statements” (546).


This article makes the distinction between autonomy-supportive teachers and controlling teacher behaviors. Teachers with more controlling behaviors target desirable behaviors, thinking, and feelings through offering extrinsic incentives and consequences. Autonomy-supportive teachers motivate students through identifying and supporting student interests. Dwelling on a teacher’s motivation style is important because of its connection to the quality of student motivation and achievement.


I was struck by how autonomy-supportive teachers listened more and asked questions about how students thought through learning a concept whereas teachers who exhibited more controlling behaviors offered more directives and handled the materials more often. Students may learn how to be more self-regulated learners if teachers modeled those skills through how they listen and ask the kinds of questions that’ll empower students to self-reflect more in-depth ways. I wonder how I can ask questions that guide towards autonomy instead of control and listen/pay attention to their self-regulating processes.

Other Sources:

Lortie, D.C.(1977). The balance of control and autonomy in elementary school teaching. In D. Erikson (Ed.) Educational organization and administration,335-371.

Patrick, B.C.,Skinner,E.A.,&Cornell, J.P. (1993)What motivates childrens’ behavior and emotion?Joint effects of perceived control and autonomy in the academic domain.Journal of Personlity and Social Psychology ,65,781-791.

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