Teachers’ perceptions of autonomy in the tensions between a subject focus and a cross-curricular school profile: A case study of a Finnish upper secondary school

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Recent research has indicated global trends of decreasing teacher autonomy and increasing teacher accountability. Standardised national tests have been identified as one of many factors constraining teacher autonomy. Another trend influencing teachers’ scope of action is the profiling and branding of schools that compete for students. This qualitative case study concerns the general upper secondary level in Finland, the only level of education in the country with a high-stakes final examination—the matriculation exam. The upper secondary level is generally regarded as Finland’s most subject-focused level of education. In contrast to this subject-focused tradition, the case school for this research has developed a cross-curricular profile emphasising creativity, boundary crossing and an outward orientated approach. The study explores the teachers’ perceptions of how their autonomy is constrained in this context characterised by tensions between the cross-curricular school profile on one hand, and the subject-focused tradition and student evaluations on the other. Although one might expect these tensions to constrain teacher autonomy, the results show that the teachers, in fact, experience the cross-curricular school profile as increasing their individual autonomy. The study demonstrates that upper secondary teachers can experience extensive autonomy despite global trends of increasing teacher accountability and diminishing teacher autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Educational Change
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Teachers’ perceptions of autonomy in the tensions between a subject focus and a cross-curricular school profile: A case study of a Finnish upper secondary school'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this