Having No Freedom to Select Courses to Teach: Does It Mean That Teachers Can’t Have Their Need for Autonomy Fulfilled?


Evidence in previous studies has shown that teachers in different education settings enjoy great autonomy and control over their teaching practices at the classroom level. On the contrary, teacher autonomy beyond the classroom is limited by structural, contextual and cultural constraints. For example, teachers have little influence or no control over curriculum-related issues and administrative tasks. The effects of external constraints on teacher autonomy and the teaching quality have received considerable critical attention. So far, there has been little discussion about teachers’ individual differences in perceptions of external constraints and their impacts on teachers’ instructional performance. This study aims to examine EFL teachers’ perceptions of their autonomy regarding course selection and course allocation process at the tertiary level in Vietnam. The study employed the conceptualisation of autonomy as a basic psychological need in Self-determination theory. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with the participation of 20 EFL teachers from 11 universities across Vietnam. The findings show that not all teachers reported unfavourable reactions and attitudes toward their lack of involvement in course selection. Some teachers preferred to have their courses selected and allocated to them by their leaders. Some were not happy with this process but chose to compromise. Others showed their disappointment and expressed their desire to make a decision on their own courses. Drawing on Self-determination theory, the study contributes rich and fruitful findings to the area of teacher autonomy as well as the application of Self-determination theory in a Collectivist context.

Author Information
Linh Tran, University of Newcastle, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2022
Stream: Psychology and Education

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon