Zbornik Instituta za pedagoska istrazivanja 2009 Volume 41, Issue 2, Pages: 349-366
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Students' autonomy and teacher's interpersonal style in self-determination theory

Lalić-Vučetić Nataša, Đerić Ivana, Đević Rajka

Starting from psychological needs that are considered basic within self-determination theory (autonomy, competence and relatedness), the importance of encouraging students' autonomy in school context is particularly emphasised. Appreciation of students' autonomy has a stimulating effect on school achievement, conceptual understanding, creativity development, strengthening of self-esteem, and students adapt better to school system and demonstrate a larger degree of internalisation of school rules and intrinsic motivation. Teachers' behavioural style largely determines the degree of students' autonomy in school life and work. Self-determination theory implies the necessity of agreement between the developmental need for autonomy in children and the level of adult control and distinguishes between two styles of interpersonal behavior of teachers: (a) those who offer support to students' autonomy by their behavior and (b) those that are predominantly inclined to control students' behavior. This paper also points out to different strategies that can be applied by teachers in working with students in school, which also contribute to the development of students' autonomy. What is especially encouraging is the fact that it is possible to learn and to develop 'appreciation of students' autonomy' as teacher's interpersonal style.

Keywords: self-determination theory, appreciation of student autonomy, teachers, students