The illustrations of teaching in this section are provided to address questions about what teachers say and do to employ autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching. The goal of these illustrations is to provide practical classroom examples of autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching strategies and their elaborated interpretations, which may assist teachers to self-reflect on the motivational strategies they employ. These examples of actual teacher–student interactions could help teachers to think about whether they have showed similar teaching behaviors in the classroom, and how these behaviors could impact their students.
4.3.1. Episodes from Anne’s Lessons
Regarding Anne’s Finnish lesson in 7B, she first provided students with time to review Finnish indefinite pronouns by themselves. She then asked them to take a small test and list the indefinite pronouns they knew. Later, Anne and her students went through the exercises about these pronouns. During the lesson, the students were seated in rows facing the teacher.
Before the small test, Anne offered choices and used non-controlling language to instruct students to review Finnish indefinite pronouns by themselves.
- So, I’m just silent for a moment…And you are too…And at that time you are silent and can close your eyes or put your hands there and try to get them all there and remember how many they are.
During this instruction, Anne encouraged students’ self-paced learning by providing them time to recall indefinite pronouns. Simultaneously, she used non-controlling language with “can” to suggest the way they were going to proceed. However, she indicated that they could still choose their own ways to proceed.
She then asked them to take a small test about those pronouns. After completion of this activity, a student expressed that he did not find any benefit in doing so. Anne then reacted by acknowledging this student’s negative affect and simultaneously providing explanatory rationales.
- I don’t see any point doing this.
- This was the most difficult one. That’s why we asked it like this. And I asked this like this because if I had just said “read them”, I think that you wouldn’t have read the types. Or how is it if I said “just read them independently”? Would you have learned them independently by heart?
- Maybe not by heart, but I would have read them.
In Anne’s reaction, she first acknowledged that this activity was difficult and then explained that its purpose was to help students identify and classify personal pronouns by heart. Although the student did not totally agree with Anne, he indicated that he might not have learned by heart if he did not engage in this activity.
When Anne and her students went through the exercises concerning indefinite pronouns, she showed error tolerance, emphasizing “it doesn’t matter” if they made a mistake or did not understand the most difficult questions because they were still practicing.
- This is not so serious anyhow if something is left out…The last one was more like hair-splitting, so just forget it if you did not understand anything, it doesn’t matter…It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake because we are still practicing.
Anne also showed error tolerance to a student who mistakenly completed exercises from another page of the book.
- And on the other page, I’ve done them all from there.
- Oh no, it can’t be, but they are all here! (with a kind tone)
- I didn’t understand there were also other exercises that you had to search for.
- That’s true, I admit. Okay, but it doesn’t matter if you have done them. What did you find from there then?
During this interaction, Anne listened to this student’s explanation without any negative responses. She even admitted that it was easy to make such a mistake, and allowed this student to report what had been found on the page where she completed the exercises.
However, when she expected all students in the class to know which category of pronouns a word involved, she created ego involvement.
- Now everybody should raise their hand. To which group does “muutama” [a few] belong?…There’s still someone’s hand down…Wonderful! We should have a photo of this.
In this instruction, Anne created ego involvement to urge students to raise their hands. It remained unknown whether all students knew the answer to the question, but they all raised their hands after she said that someone’s hand was still down. Anne might have created internal feelings of shame and anxiety to those with their hands down in the beginning.
Regarding Anne’s Finnish lesson in 8B, she first invited individual students to read their Finnish writing about an author’s career in literature aloud. She then evaluated their writing and explained the evaluation criteria. For those students who did not present their writing publicly, Anne asked them to make a self-evaluation. During the lesson, the students were seated in rows facing the teacher.
When Anne invited individual students to read their writing aloud, she used both autonomy-supportive and controlling strategies in the same instructional sequence. This strategy has been informed previously in Figure 1
. She provided an explanatory rationale for the learning activity, but simultaneously created ego involvement to urge them to take part in the activity.
- I think this would be a great opportunity to finish this (reading their writing about an author and clarifying the points they got) if you even care a bit about your grade.
In this instruction, Anne noted that it would be a good time to clarify the quality of their writing before the test by participating in this rehearsal. However, she simultaneously created ego involvement by emphasizing that it would be important to do so if they cared about their grades. This statement could make the students understand the need for rehearsal, but could also create internal compulsions of guilt and shame, because it might imply that they did not care about their grades if they did not take part in the rehearsal.
Nevertheless, when a student mistakenly read an author’s age at death as 21 rather than 81, she showed error tolerance without any negative responses.
- The Silmarillion remained unfinished upon his death in 1973, when he was 21 years old.
- Twenty-one? Did you say so? Did I hear wrong? (with a calm tone)
- Oh no, eighty-one.
- I was thinking indeed that he lived a bit longer. All right! (with an encouraging tone)
In Anne’s response, she first checked and confirmed the student’s mistake. After allowing him to correct the mistake by himself, she asked him to continue his reading by saying “all right” with an encouraging tone.
For those students who did not read their writing aloud, Anne offered choices for their self-evaluation to clarify their points. As mentioned previously in the literature review, her encouragement of their self-evaluation involved cognitive choices.
- You mark down how much you would get for your answer. Would I get eight, or would I get three, or what would I add yet to make it a proper essay?...I put it this way: How many got more than five points? How many got more than eight points? More than ten?
In this instruction, Anne encouraged students to formulate their independent opinions about the criteria of a proper essay and how many useful facts were presented in their own writing. Her provision of cognitive choices might facilitate students’ in-depth learning of essay writing.
At the end of the lesson, however, Anne created ego involvement and made public criticisms of a student’s lack of effort.
- The next brave individual…Tomi would be brave, but he hasn’t done it. You have not done your homework…You have been sitting there and have been doing nothing and haven’t done your homework. That doesn’t mean that you can stay there slacking.
- Yeah but, I’m processing these things.
- No, you have been processing these far too much. You have been processing since yesterday. Haven’t you started at all doing it?
- I have to…but….
During this interaction, it was explicit that Anne created internal compulsions of shame to pressure him to act as expected, without giving him a chance to explain. The other students then looked at him, and some even laughed at him. Later, this student turned around and looked at the camera with an anxious look.
4.3.2. Episodes from Laura’s Lessons
Regarding Laura’s English lesson in 7C, first she introduced the vocabulary about school systems and classroom facilities. She then asked the students to complete the exercises in their textbooks. They were seated in small groups with three or four members in each group.
When Laura taught the English vocabulary about the school system in Finland, she provided an explanatory rationale for the importance of learning this vocabulary.
- So, there are plenty of words to describe schools. Even though you know all the schools perfectly, still, when you go to Spain, you have to explain again what school you are in, what kind of school it is, your grade, how old you are, and what has happened there. That’s just because school systems are different in every country. Those small words help you.
During this instruction, Laura pointed out the differences between the school systems in Finland and some foreign countries, and the importance of explaining these differences to foreigners if students went abroad. However, Laura then used controlling language to require students to use British words instead of American ones in their expression.
- Your problem is that you watch a lot of American programs, I claim. But we are in Europe and Great Britain is closer to us, and that’s why we should use British words.
During this instruction, Laura used controlling language with “should”. She required students to use British words because Britain is closer to Finland than America, which did not sound a very convincing rationale. Laura also indicated that watching a lot of American TV programs was a problem that would hinder their use of British words. However, she did not ask about students’ preferences for the use of words, nor did she offer them a choice.
The next illustrative example showed how fostering interest in learning helped with Laura’s teaching. When she introduced the English vocabulary for classroom facilities, she created a word—“esiäiti” in Finnish—which derives from “isoäiti” (meaning “grandmother”) to emphasize “esi” (meaning “pre”) and help students better understand that touchscreens evolved from interactive whiteboards.
- An interactive whiteboard is like the “esiäiti” of a touchscreen.
- Esiäiti, haha!
- That word doesn’t exist…What is it? How is it called?...This is its “esiäiti.” It’s evolved from….
- Now I know.
During this interaction, Laura’s creative explanation assisted to foster students’ curiosity in learning the relationship between touchscreens and interactive whiteboards. Her newly-created word seemed quite interesting to one student, and he was laughing happily when he finally understood the relationship between the two types of classroom facilities.
In the last section of the lesson, Laura asked students to complete the exercises in their textbooks, concerning interviews with peers about their schools, grades, and classes. The students worked in their own groups and took turns to ask and answer. Laura then used controlling language again to manage student behavior.
- Hey, Lisa, have you done it? Concentrate on your role.
During this instruction, Laura used a directive to command one student to concentrate on her work. Although students’ exercises involved interactive communication, she did not participate in their conversation, nor give any comments. Her teaching role focused on examining students’ learning tasks and ensured that everybody had completed them.
Regarding Laura’s English lesson in 8C
, she first asked students to use iPads to find the website and complete the exercises concerning English vocabulary and grammar. She then helped to solve students’ problems during the exercises, and also managed their behaviors to ensure the completion of the tasks. The students were seated in small groups with three or four members in each group. During this lesson, she emphasized several times that students could choose the exercises they wanted to complete.
- Choose a bit what you are going to do. Work with your iPads…Either you do those Sanoma Pro exercises…or then you can go to Quizlet…. So, go either to the site Sanomapro.fi or… That is now this Sanoma Pro…and the other one is Quizlet…Yes, you can choose from all the exercises, they are a bit different there… Even though there are terribly many, check which ones are beneficial to you.
Besides providing options for students’ exercises, she also asked about students’ preferences for activities in the coming lesson.
- And then we will do something fun during the class next week. Is there something you would like to do?
As discussed previously in the literature review, both examples of options concerned procedural and organizational choices, in other words, the procedure for the lesson and the layout of the coming lesson. Nevertheless, no cognitive choices concerning student independent opinions about the learning content were found. Laura did not show any pedagogical design that could facilitate students’ deep learning of English vocabulary and grammar through completing the exercises. The whole lesson only involved doing exercises and her checking students’ exercises. There was no discussion about specific learning content, so no cognitive choices for students were provided.
During the lesson, a student requested the right to go to the toilet because it was Children’s Day, but Laura used conditional regard to respond to the student’s request.
- So, we should all have the right to go to the toilet during class.
- If you empty your pockets, you may go to the toilet during class.
In this statement, she made it explicit that they would be allowed to go only if they emptied their pockets and took out their cellphones. Her conditional regard or permission to go to the toilet indirectly controlled student behaviors. However, her controlling strategy might hurt students’ self-esteem.
Apart from using conditional regard, she also created ego involvement to stop a student wearing a hood. She took off his hood and, at the same time, connected his behavior to his hairdresser.
- Your hairdresser would have worked for nothing if you had your hood over your head.
In Laura’s controlling behavior, she might create internal feelings of shame with this student indirectly, although he had not displayed any disruptive behavior in the classroom.
At the end of the lesson, she employed controlling teaching very intensively, as displayed previously in Figure 2
. First, she rejected students’ negative affect about the length of the lesson. She had a disagreement with her students about the time to end the lesson. Finally, she announced that time ought to be based on her clock, using an authoritarian power assertion. However, the students rebelled against her power.
- You have five minutes left, actually four. Use them well.
- Shh...my clock wins.
- No, it doesn’t.
After this negative interaction between her and the students, she continued using controlling language to pressure them to comply with her directives. However, her commands were not effective because many students showed passivity towards the learning activity and started chatting or packing. She had to repeat her commands several times, and finally complained, “It starts to get a bit out of hand.” It was explicit that her repetitive commands could not control students’ behaviors.
- Janne, do exercises. Hey, Sampo, Tomi, and Pasi…Mmm, Janne, Kimmo, some action…Er, Janne…Eerikki…Discuss it in English…Eerikki, you concentrate on your own work…Janne, the same goes for you…Don’t pack your stuff yet. (with an annoyed tone)