Teachers’ epistemological beliefs as an antecedent of autonomy-supportive teaching
A large body of research has been devoted to the outcomes of autonomy-supportive teaching (AST). However, research on its antecedents is scarce. The present study explored teachers’ personal epistemology as a possible predictor of students’ perceptions of AST. We administered surveys to 622 students in 23 seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms regarding the extent to which their teachers tried to take the students’ perspective and to provide rationale—major aspects of autonomy support. At the same time, their teachers’ personal epistemologies were assessed. Hierarchical linear model analysis revealed that students of teachers scored with more objectivist (absolutist) personal epistemologies reported that their teachers were less likely to be autonomy supportive. AST, in turn, predicted students’ optimal internalization of pro-social behavior. Further exploration of a range of teachers’ personal characteristics, then, would appear to be an important and productive approach to understanding the variability of teachers’ engagement in autonomy supportive practices.