Adamson & Sert (2012) in their article “autonomy in learning English as a foreign language” contended “as with definitions of learner autonomy, teacher autonomy too requires an individual and a social dimension, both which interact to mould a teacher who is personally self-directed, reflective of their own practice, yet able to collaborate and negotiate the learning-teaching process with fellow teachers, parents and students”.
Barton & Collins (1993) asserted the importance of such teacher autonomy in their pre-service training itself is essential for teachers later to be able to engage constructively in dialogue about autonomy with students. Yildirim (2008) considered a potentially pivotal role for teachers in the development of learner autonomy, particularly in readying younger learners before embarking on autonomous tasks, and Adamson & Sert (2012) warned that this role may be endangered by negative attitudes towards facets of autonomy embedded in teachers before teacher training begins.
Lortie (1975, p.60) and Denscombe (1982, p. 259) noted that teachers in their own experiences of learning may have developed resistance to autonomy in a “hidden pedagogy” which remerges when teaching practice actually begins.
Asserting that an autonomous teacher is self-directed, reflective and collaborative in the community as well as at the workplace in a “life plan” or “strategy for life”, Al-Mansoori (2008) furthers the role that autonomy plays in a teacher’s life to stress that it not only shapes professional life, but social life too.
2.3.3. Autonomy in Language Learning Setting
There are many contradictions regarding whether autonomy is an internal or external issue and it is yet to be discussed more, but according to Lynch (2001, pp. 390-391) autonomy is a concept to be practiced both, within and outside of institutional boundaries. On the other hand, Adamson & Sert (2012) alert that if autonomy exercised to its full effectiveness, needs to be an all-pervading philosophy of life shaping an individual’s personal cognition and behavior in the community.
When we go through research regarding educational psychology it is obvious that autonomy is strongly supported where students and teachers’ highest performances are concerned. Assor et al. (2002) and Wentzel (2002) acknowledged that an autonomy-supportive teaching style is positively associated with more school engagement, higher grades and better school adjustment. Teacher autonomy, on the other hand, is “the capacity, freedom, and/or responsibility to make choices concerning one’s own teaching” (Aoki ,2000; p.3).
deCharms (1968) comments due to the fact that an autonomous self-regulation pertains to actions that are freely endorsed and are based on integrated values and interests, the perceived locus of causality of their actions is internal. Furthermore, some experts discuss that autonomous self-regulation in the educational domain is associated with higher feelings of self-perceived and teacher rated academic competence, with use of optimal learning strategies (Fortier et al., 1995; Grolnick et al., 1991; Yamauchi et al., 1999).
Stating that autonomy is a socio-cognitive system nested in the SLA system Paiva (2006) provide potential evidence for this claim that it involves not only the individual’s mental states and processes, but also political, social and economic dimensions (cited in Paiva, 2011, pp. 63). Masouleh & Jooneghani (2012) also held that it is not a state, but a non-linear process, which undergoes periods of instability, variability and adaptability.
Hill and Holmbeck (1986) provide potential evidence for this claim that the developmental tasks individuals are confronted with during adolescence are primarily centered on issues of individuation and autonomy. On the contrary and according to Soenens & Vansteenkiste (2005) there is a lack of an overarching theoretical perspective from which clear definitions of autonomy and predictions about its antecedents and consequences can be drawn. They believe that Self-Determination Theory can define autonomy by stating that acting in an autonomous or self-regulated fashion implies being self-governing and being the initiator of one’s own actions.
Holmbeck et al. (1995) say socialization practices, particularly by parents, are considered to play a crucial role in the development of autonomy. When we study the modern methods of language teaching, what is obviously perceived is that the focus is on the process of making learners as autonomous as possible. We shouldn’t forget that the teacher plays a crucial role in the classroom and is expected to participate actively within the class activities. Brown (1996) stated that there is a danger in curriculum planning that solely focuses on learners’ needs without considering the shareholders who are: teachers, administrators, employers, institutions, societies, and even the nations that have influences on language learning.
The present study seeks to investigate the relationship of various teaching styles, autonomy and NLP. In so doing, the researcher used three questionnaires so as to collect the data. A correlational research design is appropriate for this study as it allows the researcher to determine the existence of relationships and patterns of relationship among variables. In light of all considered above, the objective of this study has been that of investigating whether various teaching styles, autonomy and NLP are related to each other or not. The following is a brief description of the study participants, the instruments, procedure and design
The participants of this research consisted of 129 teachers in 22 to 45 age range who were yet teaching English at various language institutes, inter alia, Asre Zaban Language Academy, in Tehran, Iran. The selection was based on willingness to participate and teachers were selected non-randomly based on convenient non-random sampling. A supervisor from each institute was also involved in the study.
The mentioned participants were representatives from the total number of 200 teachers accepted to fill out the questionnaires in these institutes.
The institutions’ system grouped the teachers into classes before the beginning of the academic year and none of the participants received any training concerning teaching styles as part of this study. In this research, all subjects were selected irrespective of the levels they taught in their institutions.
One of the major ways to collect research data is by ‘administering a nationally known survey’ (Gay & Airasian, 2003). The researcher used three instruments in the data collection process of this study to obtain the scores necessary to perform the statistical analyses: Grasha Teaching Style Inventory Questionnaire provided information concerning teachers’ teaching styles. A Neuro-Linguistic Programming Questionnaire (NLPQ) assisted in collecting information and determining the NLP issues and the last questionnaire (Teacher Autonomy Survey) helped to gather data on teachers’ autonomy.
3.3.1. Grasha Teaching Style Inventory Questionnaire
A 40-item what named Grasha’s Teaching Style Inventory:Version 3.0 (1994), was used in this study. Teachers were asked to complete the scale about themselves and their teaching preferences. The introduction of the questionnaire starts with the sentences: “Try to answer as honestly and as objectively as you can.” and “Resist the temptation to respond as you believe you should or ought to think or behave, or in terms of what you believe is the expected or proper thing to do.”
The questionnaire itself starts with an unfinished sentence: “When teaching my class, I would most be likely
to:” and participants should read 40 sentences and choose among the five possible options for each sentence: SA=Strongly Agree; A= Agree; U= Undecided; D= Disagree; SD= Strongly Disagree. In other words, each item is scored using a 5-point Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Responses are scored for each teaching method on this five point scale. The five teaching styles (Grasha, 1994) considered in this questionnaire are Expert, Formal Authority, Personal Model, Delegator and Facilitator. Expert teaching challenges students to expand their knowledge in that teacher is respected by students in light of his/her expertise. The second category is formal authority which focuses on class rules and expectations whether positive or negative and defines the structures and standards for students’ learning. Personal model teachers are those who display personal examples by guiding and modeling for students. In this model learners are supposed to follow teacher’s approach which is considered the most effective. The fourth teaching style is delegator in which teacher is intrigued by empowering learners to work autonomously and become independent students. The last category is facilitator which emphasizes teacher-student relationships and interactions by displaying flexibility and understanding needs. Table 3.1 shows the distribution of questions with relevant teaching styles.
Distribution of Questions with Relevant Teaching Styles
3.3.2. Neuro-Linguistic Programming Questionnaire (NLPQ)
The Neuro-Linguistic Programming Questionnaire (NLPQ) was designed and introduced by Reza Pishghadam (2011). It consists of 38 sentences and has eight categories according to eight factors:
Flexibility is the label for the first factor which consists of 6 items: 24, 33, 34, 36, 37 and 38 measure teachers? level of flexibility in classroom context in general. All these items test the negative actions and reactions of the teacher and if the teacher could manage the teaching process in a flexible way or not.
which refers to the process by which an internal or external stimulus triggers a response (Millrood, 2004). This factor consists of 4 items. Items 15, 25, 31 and 35 measure the amount of anchor that occur naturally or is set up intentionally by the teacher. Anchoring is related to students? success and progress, which are involved in items 31 and 35. The learners? need to be involved in class activities is measured by item 25.
Factor 3 which is known as Elicitation comprises 5 items. By definition elicitation refers to evoking a state by one`s behavior (Millrood, 2004). Items 9, 13, 18, 28, and 32, test the teacher?s strategy in gathering information by direct observation of non-verbal signals or by asking Meta Model questions.
Modeling is the label which researchers selected for the fourth factor of the questionnaire. It consists of 3 items. Items 14, 26, and 30 which ask to what extent the teacher is successful in the process of presenting the new or difficult material in order to enable the students to accomplish a task. Also these items are related to accelerating learning by the teacher.
5. Individual Differences
Individual differences which is the fifth factor is explained as a tendency on the part of the teacher to give every individual student in the classroom a sense of belonging by considering all of their points of view and ideas. Items 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 21, and 27 test the process of getting all the students engaged equally by the teacher.
The sixth factor of the questionnaire that is consisted of 4 items is named Leading, which is referred to as changing one?s behavior with enough