Decomposing teacher autonomy: A study investigating types of teacher autonomy and how it relates to job satisfaction

Lawrence Rudolph, University of Pennsylvania


This study was conducted by a group of four doctoral candidates in the mid-career leadership program at the University of Pennsylvania. The purpose of the study was to decompose teacher autonomy, investigating types of teacher autonomy and how current public school climate impacted teacher autonomy. This study attempted to identify areas of teacher autonomy, specifically autonomy as it related to teacher control over curriculum. This study also attempted to examine teachers' level of job satisfaction. This study took place over four public school districts located in Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. In my investigation of teacher autonomy, I developed the following research questions: Is there a relationship between elementary/secondary teachers' perceptions of having autonomy over curriculum and their levels of job satisfaction? To what extent does a leader granting autonomy to teacher's impact teacher job satisfaction? In an effort to answer my questions along with the other members of the group, our study design included the use of a survey along with interviews of a sample of school principals and teachers. The survey was designed to access demographic information mentioned above, and information on feelings of self efficacy, information on job satisfaction, and information on current school reform initiatives being implemented in the school. The teacher interview protocol was designed to probe more deeply into how teachers felt both about their autonomy and about why they felt they wanted autonomy. Finally, the principal interview was used to ask questions of the building leader in order to find out how school culture was established. Survey data from each site was collected and aggregated into a database. The interviews were recorded and transcribed by the researcher who conducted them. The original transcripts were held on a password protected server at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Pseudonyms were inserted into each transcript so that the individuals interviewed weren't identified.

Subject Area

School administration|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Rudolph, Lawrence, "Decomposing teacher autonomy: A study investigating types of teacher autonomy and how it relates to job satisfaction" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3209981.