The Effects of an Autonomy-Supportive Teaching Intervention on Chinese Physics Students and their Teacher

Article

Abstract

Increasing student exposure to autonomy-supportive teaching approaches has been linked to enhanced student intrinsic motivation to learn. However, such approaches are rare in mainland Chinese science classrooms. An intervention-based study with quasi-experimental design and mixed methods was conducted to explore the impact of a 9-month-long autonomy-supportive teaching intervention on a physics teacher and 147 grade 8 students attending a middle school in China. Data collected through questionnaires, interviews, and observations were analyzed to elicit and track shifts in teacher practices and students’ perceptions of learning physics at pre-, post-, and follow-up intervention phases. General linear modeling confirmed significant changes in students’ perceptions of their learning environment over time in terms autonomy, satisfaction of autonomy needs, and agentic engagement. Interview and observational data analyses confirmed increased use of autonomy-supportive teaching behaviors and provided further insights into teacher and students’ perceptions of the impact on student learning.

Keywords

Self-determination theory Autonomy support Engagement Physics education 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research work is funded by International Cooperation Research Program of Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University and Faculty of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney.

References

  1. Assor, A., Kaplan, H., & Roth, G. (2002). Choice is good, but relevance is excellent: Autonomy-enhancing and suppressing teaching behaviors predicting students’ engagement in schoolwork. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 27, 261–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett, M., Ng-Knight, T., & Hayes, B. (2016). Autonomy-supportive teaching and its antecedents: Differences between teachers and teaching assistants and the predictive role of perceived competence. European Journal of Psychology of Education. Online first doi  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-016-0321-x .
  3. Black, A., & Deci, E. (2000). The effects of instructors’ autonomy support and students’ autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Science Education, 84(6), 740–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Byrne, B. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS—Basic concepts, applications, and programming. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  6. Chatzisarantis, N. L., & Hagger, M. S. (2009). Effects of an intervention based on self-determination theory on self-reported leisure-time physical activity participation. Psychology Health, 24(1), 29–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, B., Van Assche, J., Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., & Beyers, W. (2015). Does psychological need satisfaction matter when environmental or financial safety are at risk? Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 745–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheon, S. H., Reeve, J., & Moon, I. S. (2012). Experimentally based, longitudinally designed, teacher-focused intervention to help physical education teachers be more autonomy-supportive toward their students. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 34(3), 365–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chirkov, V. I., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Parent and teacher autonomy-support in Russian and U.S. adolescents: Common effects on well-being and academic motivation. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 32(5), 618–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Handbook of self-determination research. Suffolk: University of Rochester Press and Boydell & Brewer Ltd.Google Scholar
  12. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deci, E. L., Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., & Ryan, R. M. (1991). Motivation and education: The self-determination perspective. Educational Psychologist, 26(3), 325–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Edmunds, J., Ntoumanis, N., & Duda, J. (2008). Testing a self-determination theory-based teaching style intervention in the exercise domain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 38, 375–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Flanders, N. (1963). Intent, action and feedback: A preparation for teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 4(3), 251–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fortus, D., & Vedder-Weiss, D. (2014). Measuring students’ continuing motivation for science learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(4), 497–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frederick, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Galton, M. (2009). Moving to secondary school: Initial encounters and their effects. Perspectives on Education (Primary Secondary Transfer in Science), 2, 5–21.Google Scholar
  19. Gao, X. W., & Sheng, H. (2014). What teachers say and do to support students’ autonomous learning. Teacher Education Research, Chinese Journal (Jiaoshi Jiaoyu Yanjiu), 26(4), 81–86.Google Scholar
  20. Gao, X. W., & Watkins, D. A. (2002). Conceptions of teaching held by school science teachers in P.R. China: Identification and cross-cultural comparisons. International Journal of Science Education, 24(1), 61–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gregory, A., Allen, J. P., Mikami, A. Y., Hafen, C. A., & Pianta, R. C. (2013). Effects of a professional development program on behavioral engagement of students in middle and high school. Psychology in the Schools, 51(2), 143–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, N. (2013). Autonomy and the student experience in introductory physics. Unpublished dissertation submitted to University of California, Davis, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. Hall, N., & Webb, D. (2014). Instructors’ support of student autonomy in an introductory physics course. Physical Review Special Topics—Physics Education Research., 10, 02116.Google Scholar
  24. Hofferber, N., Basten, M., Grobmann, N., & Wilde, M. (2016). The effects of autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching behaviour in biology lessons with primary and secondary experiences on students’ intrinsic motivation and flow-experience. International Journal of Science Education, 38(13), 2114–2132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jang, H., Kim, E. J., & Reeve, J. (2012). Longitudinal test of self-determination theory’s motivation mediation model in a naturally occurring classroom context. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 1175–1188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jang, H., Kim, E. J., & Reeve, J. (2016). Why students become more engaged or more disengaged during the semester: A self-determination theory dual-process model. Learning and Instruction, 43, 27–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jang, H., Reeve, J., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Engaging students in learning activities: It is not autonomy support or structure but autonomy support and structure. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 588–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Li, T., & Yu, T. (2011). The factors that influence teachers’ autonomy support strategies. Journal of Changchun Education Institute, 31(15), 107–108.Google Scholar
  29. Lam, S. f., Jimerson, S., Wong, B. P. H., Kikas, E., Shin, H., Veiga, F. H., Hatzichristou, C., Polychroni, F., Cefai, C., Negovan, V., Stanculescu, E., Yang, H., Liu, Y., Basnett, J., Duck, R., Farrell, P., Nelson, B., & Zollneritsch, J. (2014). Understanding and measuring student engagement in school: The results of an international study from 12 countries. School Psychology Quarterly, 29, 213–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lampert, M., Franke, M. L., Kazemi, E., Franke, M. L., Ghousseini, H., Turrou, A. C., . . . Crowe, K. (2013). Keeping it complex: Using rehearsals to support novice teacher learning of ambitious teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(3), 226–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lan, S., & Reeve, J. (2011). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of intervention program designed to support autonomy. Educational Psychology Review, 23, 159-188.Google Scholar
  32. Logan, M., & Skamp, K. (2008). Engaging students in science across the primary secondary interface: Listening to the students’ voice. Research in Science Education, 38(4), 501–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marx, R. W., Blumenfeld, P. C., Krajcik, J. S., Fishman, B., Soloway, E., Geier, R., et al. (2004). Inquiry-based science in the middle grades: Assessment of learning in urban systemic reform. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(10), 1063–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mclachlan, S., & Hagger, M. S. (2010). Effects of an autonomy-supportive intervention on tutor behaviors in a higher education context. Teaching & Teacher Education An International Journal of Research & Studies, 26(5), 1204–1210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. OECD. (2008). Encouraging student interest in science and technology studies: Global science forum. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  36. Olsen, R., Prenzel, M., & Martin, R. (2011). Interest in science: A many-faceted picture painted by data from the OECD PISA study. International Journal of Science Education, 33(33), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Osborne, J., Simon, S., & Collins, S. (2003). Attitudes towards science: A review of the literature and its implications. International Journal of Science Education, 25(9), 1049–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pintrich, P. R. (2003). A motivational science perspective on the role of student motivation in learning and teaching contexts. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(4), 667–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Potvin, P., & Hasni, A. (2014). Analysis of the decline in interest towards school science and technology from grades 5 through 11. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 23(6), 784–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Prokop, P., Tuncer, G., & Chuda, J. (2007). Slovakian students’ attitude toward biology. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 3, 287–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Reeve, J. (1998). Autonomy support as an interpersonal motivating style: Is it teachable? Contemporary Educational Psychology, volume, 23(3), 312–330(19).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reeve, J. (2002). Self-determination theory applied to educational setting. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 183–203). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  43. Reeve, J., Jang, H., Carrell, D., Jeon, S., & Barch, J. (2004a). Enhancing high school students’ engagement by increasing their teachers’ autonomy support. Motivation and Emotion, 28, 147–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Reeve, J. (2006). Teachers as facilitators: What autonomy-supportive teachers do and why their students benefit. Elementary School Journal, 106, 225–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Reeve, J. (2009). Why teachers adopt a controlling motivating style toward students and how they can become more autonomy-supportive. Educational Psychologist, 44(3), 159–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Reeve, J. (2012). A self-determination theory perspective on student engagement. In S. L. Christenson, A. Reschly, & C. Wylie (Eds.), Handbook of research on student engagement (pp. 149–172). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Reeve, J. (2015). Giving and summoning autonomy support in hierarchical relationships. Social and Personality Compass, 9, 406–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Reeve, J., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2004b). Self-determination theory: A dialectical framework for understanding the sociocultural influences on student motivation. In D. M. McInerney & S. Van Etten (Eds.), Research on sociocultural influences on motivation and learning: Big theories revisited (Vol. 4, pp. 31–59). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Press.Google Scholar
  49. Reeve, J., & Halusic, M. (2009). How K-12 teachers can put self-determination theory principles into practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7(2), 145–154.Google Scholar
  50. Reeve, J., & Jang, H. (2006). What teachers say and do to support students’ autonomy during a learning activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1).Google Scholar
  51. Reeve, J., Jang, H., Dan, C., Jeon, S., & Barch, J. (2004c). Enhancing students’ engagement by increasing teachers’ autonomy support. Motivation & Emotion, 28(2), 147–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reeve, J., & Tseng, M. (2011). Agency as a fourth aspect of student engagement during learning activities. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 36, 257–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reeve, J., Vansteenkiste, M., Assor, A., Ahmad, I., Cheon, S. H., Jang, H., Kaplan, H., Moss, J. D., Olaussen, B. S., & Wang, C. K. (2014). The beliefs that underlie autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching: A multinational investigation. Motivation and Emotion, 38, 93–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Robertson, L., & Jones, M. G. (2013). Chinese and us middle-school science teachers’ autonomy, motivation, and instructional practices. International Journal of Science Education, 35(9), 1454–1489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ryan, R. M., & Connell, J. P. (1989). Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 57(5), 749–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sarrazin, P. G., Tessier, D. P., Pelletier, L. G., Trouilloud, D. O., Chanal, J. P., & Papaioannou, A. G. (2006). The effects of teachers’ expectations about students’ motivation on teachers’ autonomy-supportive and controlling behaviors. International Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 4(3), 283–301.Google Scholar
  58. Schermelleh-Engel, K., Moosbrugger, H., & Müller, H. (2003). Evaluating the fit of structural equation models: Tests of significance and descriptive goodness-of-fit measures. Methods of Psychological Research Online, 8(2), 23–74.Google Scholar
  59. Shih, S. S. (2008). The relation of self-determination and achievement goals to Taiwanese eighth graders’ behavioral and emotional engagement in schoolwork. Elementary School Journal, 108(4), 313–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Skinner, E., Furrer, C., Marchand, G., & Kindermann, T. (2008). Engagement and disaffection in the classroom: Part of a larger motivational dynamic? Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(4), 765–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stefanou, C., Perencevich, K., DiCintio, M., & Turner, J. (2004). Supporting autonomy in the classroom: Ways teachers encourage student decision making and ownership. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 97–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stroet, K., Opdenakker, M. C., & Minnaert, A. (2013). Effects of need supportive teaching on early adolescents’ motivation and engagement: a review of the literature. Educational Research Review, 9, 65–87.Google Scholar
  63. Stroet, K., Opdenakker, M. C., & Minnaert, A. (2015). Need supportive teaching in practice: A narrative analysis in schools with contrasting educational approaches. Social Psychology of Education, 18(3), 585–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Su, Y. L., & Reeve, J. (2011). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of intervention programs designed to support autonomy. Educational Psychology Review, 23(1), 159–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Taylor, I. M., Ntoumanis, N., & Smith, B. (2009). The social context as a determinant of teacher motivational strategies in physical education. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 10(2), 235–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tessier, D., Sarrazin, P., & Ntoumanis, N. (2010). The effect of an intervention to improve newly qualified teachers’ interpersonal style, students’ motivation and psychological need satisfaction in sport-based physical education. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 35(4), 242–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Vedder-Weiss, D., & Fortus, D. (2011). Adolescents’ declining motivation to learn science: Inevitable or not? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 199–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vansteenkiste, M., & Soenens, B. (2005). Experiences of autonomy and control among Chinese learners: Vitalizing or immobilizing? Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(3), 468–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wang, M. T., & Eccles, J. S. (2013). School context, achievement motivation, and academic engagement: A longitudinal study of school engagement using a multidimensional perspective. Learning and Instruction, 28, 12–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Williams, G. C., & Deci, E. L. (1996). Internalization of biopsychosocial values by medical students: A test of self-determination theory. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 70(4), 767–779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zhang, D., & Campbell, T. (2011). The psychometric evaluation of a three-dimension elementary science attitude survey. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 22(7), 595-612.Google Scholar
  72. Zhang, D., Skilling, K., & Bobis, J. (2016). Autonomy Supportive Teaching Practices: International Perspectives. Paper presented at The 4th International STEM in Education Conference (STEM 2016), Beijing, China, Oct 26-28, 2016.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment toward Basic Education QualityBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.The University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations