Structure also supports autonomy: Measuring and defining autonomy-supportive teaching in Japanese elementary foreign language classes

William L. Q. Oga Baldwin, Yoshiyuki Nakata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Recent discussions of autonomy have included the perspective that, as a basic human need across cultural environments, it includes not only choice but also personal endorsement of action. The present study focused on the cultural experience of autonomy-support in Japanese elementary school foreign language classes. Three studies were conducted to investigate how students understand autonomy-supportive teaching. In Study 1, exploratory focus groups defined cultural perspectives on autonomy-support and structure. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis indicated that clarity, pacing, and teachers' positive affect correspond to students' perception of supportive teaching. Study 2 investigated teacher support in relation to in-class engagement using longitudinal structural equation modeling. The results indicated a strong relationship between perceptions of support and classroom behavioral engagement, with stable effects over time. Study 3 longitudinally investigated teacher support in relation to students' perceptions of personal autonomy, relatedness, and competence need satisfaction. Findings show a strong positive relationship between teacher support and need satisfaction with high test-retest reliability. Discussion focuses on how autonomy need satisfaction is experienced in different cultures with differing social norms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-179
Number of pages13
JournalJapanese Psychological Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 1
Externally publishedYes



  • Autonomy-support
  • Education
  • Engagement
  • Self-determination theory
  • Situated culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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