Perceived Autonomy Support in Primary Education in the Netherlands: Differences between Teachers and Their Students

Wilfried Admiraal, Gera Nieuwenhuis, Yvette Kooij, Tineke Dijkstra, Ingrid Cloosterman


Student autonomy is a much discussed topic in educational practice and research. In this study, primary school
teachers reported what they do to support the autonomy of their students and students mentioned how they perceived
autonomy in the classroom. From the findings of a focus group, consisting of 10 teachers from the upper years, six
aspects of autonomy were extracted: freedom of choice, self-insight, self-expression, curiosity, independence and
problem solving. Then, 77 teachers and 497 students completed a questionnaire with items on these six aspects. This
questionnaire study shows that both teachers and students indicated that class work is mostly focused on student
independence and the least on freedom of choice. Students and teachers differed in the extent to which this was the
case: teachers were much more positive about the extent to which they work on their students' autonomy than their
students. This applied to all six distinct aspects of autonomy support.

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World Journal of Education
ISSN 1925-0746(Print)  ISSN 1925-0754(Online)

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