Semantic Representation of Teacher Autonomy: A Grounded Theory Study

Document Type : Qualitative Research Paper


1 PhD in Educational Management, Sanandaj branch, Islamic Azad University, Sanandaj, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Sciences, Sanandaj branch, Islamic Azad University, Sanandaj, Iran.


The present study aimed to represent the autonomy of teachers adopting the grounded theory semantically. The research approach of this study was qualitative, and the theory method was grounded theory. The statistical population included all primary school teachers and principals in Lorestan, Iran. To collect qualitative data, interviews were conducted with 45 experienced teachers, school principals, specialists, and professors. In this study, the purposive sampling method was used for participant selection. The sampling method was purposefully continued until the researcher reached theoretical saturation. The basic indicators of the model of autonomy of schoolteachers were identified using a review of the research background and content analysis of the interviews. Next, the three stages of axial coding, selective coding, and main category resulted in six main categories: axial Phenomenon, Causal Conditions, Background Conditions, Interfering Conditions, Strategic Conditions, and Consequences Conditions. Teachers' Autonomy Model was developed, including 23 axial codes in the form of six selective codes for the six dimensions of axial Phenomenon, causal conditions (with four axial codes), background conditions (with two axial codes), interfering factors (with two axial codes), strategy (with seven axial codes), and consequences (with four axial codes). The extracted qualitative model can be used in policy-making and professional autonomy planning, especially in the professional development of teachers.


Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and researching autonomy. Language Learning. London: Longman.
Canbolat, Y. (2020). Professional Autonomy of High School Teachers in Turkey:A Retrospective and Prospective Policy Analysis. Journal of Education and Science, 45(202), 141-171.
Cheng, Y. C., Ko, J., Lee, T. T. H. (2016). School autonomy, leadership and learning: a re-conceptualisation. International Journal of Educational Management. 30 (2), 196- 177.
Coombe, C. (2020). Quality education begins with teachers: What are the qualities. that make a TESOL teacher great? In J. D. M., Agudo (Ed.), “Quality in TESOL and teacher education from a results culture towards a quality culture. New York, NY & Oxon, UK: Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group an Informa Business”, 171-184.
DaSilva. A. L. L., Mølstad. C. E. (2020). Teacher autonomy and teacher agency: a comparative study in Brazilian and Norwegian lower secondary education. The curriculum Journal, 31(1), 115-131.
Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M. (2012). “Motivation, Personality and development within embedded social contexts: An overview of self–determination theory”. In R. M. Ryan(Ed), Oxford handbook of human motivation. (PP. 85-107). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Derakhshan, A., Coombo, C., Arab Mofrad, A., & Taghizadeh, M. (2020). Investigating the Effects of English Language Teachers’ Professional Identity and Autonomy in Their. Journal of Issues In Language Teaching, 9(1), 1-28.
Ebrahim Afshar, Tehran, Ney, Brari, Reza; Shokofeh Ansari, & Hasan, Akbarzadeh Roshan. (2018). The effect of job independence on the organizational performance of teachers, the fourth national conference of new approaches in education and research, Mahmoud Abad, Mazandaran Education and Culture.
Erss, M., Kalmus, V., & Autio, T. (2016). Walking a fine line: Teachers’ perception of curricular autonomy in Estonia, Finland and Germany. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 48(5), 589–609.
Esfandiari, R., & Kamali, M. (2016). On the relationship between job satisfaction, Teacher burnout, and teacher autonomy. Iranian Journal of Applied Language Studies, 8(2), 73-98.
Fleming, D. (1998). Autonomy and agency in curriculum decision-making: A study of instructors in a Canadian adult settlement ESL program. TESL Canada Journal, 16(1), 19-35.
Fock, H., Chiang, F., Au, K. Y., & Hui, M. K. (2011). The moderating effect of collectivistic orientation in psychological empowerment and job satisfaction relationship. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 30(2), 319-328.
Ghanbari, Cyrus; Eskandari, Asghar; & Farhadi, Mehran. (2015). Investigating the effect of employees' job autonomy on improving individual and organizational performance through the mediation of individual learning and organizational learning. Education and Development of Human Resources, 3 (8), 77-95.
Gilson, C. B., & Carter, E. W. (2016). Promoting social interactions and job independence for college students with autism or intellectual disability: A pilot study. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 46(11), 3583-3596.
Gokhan, G., & Ozblen, F. M. (2021). Evaluation of Teachers' Motivation and Curriculum Autonomy Levels. Journal of Educational Policy Analysis and Strategic Research, 16(2), 330-353.
Grattan Institute. (2013). The myth of markets in school education. report,
Grattan Institute, Victoria.
Green, B. A. (2013). Lawyers' Professional Independence: Overrated or Undervalued. Akron L. Rev. 46, 599.
Haapaniemi, J., Vanalainen, S., & Malin, A. Palojoki, P. (2021). “Collective teacher innovativeness in 48 countries: Effects of teacher autonomy, collaborative culture, and professional learning. Journal of Curriculum Studies”, 53(4), 546-562.
Hughes, S., & Lewis, H. (2020). Tensions in current curriculum reform and the development of teachers’ professional autonomy. The curriculum Journal, 31(2), 290-302.
Levin, H.M. (Ed.). (2001). Privatizing education: Can the market deliver choice, effi ciency, equity, and social cohesion? Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Maleki, Mohammad Reza, The victims are huge. (2013). The relationship between structural empowerment and nursing professional performance in the hospital. Scientific Quarterly Journal of Occupational Medicine, 6 (3), 32-40.
Öztürk, I. H. (2011). Ögretmen özerkligi üzerine kuramsal bir inceleme. Elektronik Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 10(35), 82-99.
 Palfreyman, D., & Smith, R.C. (Eds.) (2003) Learner autonomy across cultures: Language education perspectives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pearson, L. C., & Hall, B. W. (1993). Initial construct validation of the teaching autonomy scale. The Journal of Educational Research, 86(3), 172–178.
Reeve, J., & Jang, H. (2006). What teachers say and do to support students' autonomy during a learning activity. Journal of educational psychology, 98(1), 209.
Reeve, J. (1998). Autonomy support as an interpersonal motivating style: Is it teachable? Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23, 312-330.
Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2009). Organizational Behavior-Chapter 8. Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Rodd, J. (2013). The relationship between self-determination, achievement goal orientation and satisfaction with the learning experience: Working with adult lifelong learners. State University of New York at Albany.
Runhaar, P., Konermann, J., & Sanders, K. (2013). Teachers’ organizational citizenship behaviour: Considering the roles of their work engagement, autonomy and leader–member exchange, Teaching and Teacher Education, 30, 99–108
Schwimmer, M., & Maxwell. B. (2017) Codes of ethics and teachers’ professional autonomy. Ethics and Education, 12(2), 141-152.
Sehrawat, J. (2014). Teacher autonomy: Key to teaching success. Hartiyam International Journal of Education & Researcha: Quarterly Peer Reviewed International Journal of Research& Education, 4(1), 2277-1255.
Selamat, N., Samsu, N. Z., Kamalu, M., & N.S. (2013). The impact of organizational climate on teacher s jab performance. Educational research, 2(1), 71-82.
Shirbaghi, Nasser; Blandhamtan, Keyvan & Tedinsangani, Parveen. (2016). Examining and comparing the level of perceived work autonomy of teachers in schools. Teaching and learning studies (former social sciences and humanities) - Shiraz University 2/73 (2016) 146-172.
Short, P. M., & Rinehart, J.S. (1992). School participant empowerment scale: Assessment of level of empowerment within the school environment. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 951-960.
Sinclair, B., McGrath, I., & Lamb, T. (Eds.) (2000). Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy: Future directions. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education.
Smith, R., & Erdoğan, S. (2008). Teacher-learner autonomy. Programme goals and student–teacher constructs. In T. Lamb & H. Reinders (Eds.), Learner and teacher autonomy. Concepts, realities and responses (pp. 83–102).
John Benjamins, & Smyth, J. (1995). Teachers’ work and the labor process of teaching: Central problematics in professional development. In T.R. Guskey, & M. Huberman (Eds.), Professional development in education: New paradigms and practices (pp. 69-91). New York: Teachers College Press.
Song, J. H., Uhm, D., & Kim, J. (2012). Creativity and knowledge creation practices in the school context: The moderating role of task‐related job autonomy. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 24(4), 61-79.
Stenhouse, L. (1988). Artistry and teaching: The teacher as focus of research and development, Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 4(1), 43–51.
Strauss, Anselm and Corbin, Juliet. (2011). Qualitative basics: techniques and stages of production of research background theory. Translator:
 Taghinejad, Hamid; Sohrabi, Zainab, and Kikhaoni, Sattar. (2011). Analyzing the concept of autonomy in nursing: a review study. Journal of Ilam University of Medical Sciences, 22 (2), 43-37.
Tahmasb Zadah Sheikhlar, Daoud, Azimpour, Ehsan, Sheikhi, Morris (2018). The causal effect model of self-evaluation, job independence and job tenacity on teachers' job performance. Quarterly Journal of Educational Measurement and Evaluation Studies. (1)9, 218-199.
Tort-Moloney, D. (1997). Teacher autonomy: A Vygotskian theoretical framework. CLCS Occasional Paper No. 48. Dublin: Trinity College, CLSC.
Vangrieken, K., Grosemans, I., Dochy, F., & Kyndt, E. (2017). Teacher autonomy and collaboration: A paradox? Conceptualising and measuring teachers' autonomy and collaborative attitude. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 302-315.
Varatharaj, R., Abdullah, A. G. K., & Ismail, A. (2015). The effect of teacher autonomy on assessment practices among Malaysian cluster school teachers. International Journal of Asian Social Science, 5(1), 31-36.
Wang, G., & Hackett, R. D. (2016). Conceptualization and measurement of virtuous leadership: Doing well by doing Good. Journal of Business Ethics, 137(2), 321-345.
Wang, W. T., & Hou, Y. P. (2016). Motivations of employees’ knowledge sharing behaviors: A self-determination perspective. Information and Organization, 25(1), 1-26.
Wendel, W. B. (2018). Paying the Piper but Not Calling the Tune: Litigation Financing and Professional Independence. Akron L. Rev. 52, 1.
Wermke, W., Olason Rick, S., & Salokangas, M. (2019). Decision-making and control: Perceived autonomy of teachers in Germany and Sweden. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 51(3), 306–325.
Wermke, W., Rick, O., & Salokangas, M. (2019). Decision-Making and Control: Perceived Autonomy of Teachers in Germany and Sweden. Journal of Curriculum Studies. 51(3), 306-325.
Worth, j., & Van den Brande, J. (2020). Teacher Autonomy: How Does It Relate to Job Satisfaction and Retention? National Foundation for Educational Research. The Mere, Upton Park, Slough, Berkshire, 1-28.
Xu, G., & Dellaportas, S. (2019). “Challenges to Professional Independence in a Relational Society: Accountants in China”. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-15.
Yolcu, O., Vural, R. (2020). ). “A scale development study on measuring science teachers’ autonomy on curriculum. Uluslararası Eğitim Programları Ve Öğretim Çalışmaları Dergisi”, 10(1), 29-52.
Yucel, E. H., Ali, A., & Esra, O, U. (2021).The Role of Teacher Autonomy and School Climate on Goal Orientations for Teaching. Psycho-Educational Research Reviews, 10(2), 203-212.
Yu-hong, J., & Ting, M. (2012) A review of the research on language teacher autonomy, Sino-USEnglish Teaching, 9(4), 1045–1055.
 Yu-hong, J., I. A. N. G., & Ting, M. (2012). “A review of the research on language teacher autonomy. Sino-US English Teaching”, 9(4), 1045-1055.
Volume 10, Issue 3
December 2022
Pages 24-46
  • Receive Date: 05 April 2022
  • Revise Date: 31 December 2022
  • Accept Date: 03 November 2023
  • First Publish Date: 03 November 2023