Developments in early adolescents' self-regulation: The importance of teachers' supportive versus undermining behavior

Marie-Christine Opdenakker*

*Corresponding author voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

1 Citaat (Scopus)


Research has established that the ability to self-regulate is an important factor in adolescents’ learning, and cognitive and social functioning. Several theories on self-regulation and classroom studies suggest effects of the social learning environment on students’ self-regulation. However, most studies investigating these relations have a cross-sectional correlational design and do not relate to adolescents, resulting in little knowledge about causal directions and adolescents. This study extends existing research by examining effects of a selection of supportive and undermining teacher behavior dimensions on early adolescents’ development of self-regulation (self-regulated learning). The teacher behavior dimensions are based on ideas of the self-determination theory in which a distinction is made between dimensions that support vs. thwart three basic psychological needs (need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness) which are assumed to be important for human growth and (psychological) well-functioning. Supporting autonomy, delivering structure, and being involved with the students are assumed to be important for the fulfillment of students’ basic psychological needs, while exhibiting controlling instructional behavior, having chaos, uncertainty and inconsistency in the classroom, and rejection and neglect of students, are supposed to be a treat. Questionnaires were used for measuring students’ perceptions of their teachers’ behavior and their own self-regulation at several points in time during their first year of secondary education. Participants in the study were 566 students belonging to 20 Mathematics/English grade-7 secondary education classes in The Netherlands. Multilevel analyses point to the importance of all three teacher need-supportive dimensions (with highest effects of structure and involvement) and indicated that teachers’ need-thwarting behavior negatively affected students’ self-regulation. However, when corresponding supportive and thwarting teacher behavior dimensions were included together in the same multilevel model, only the effect of the undermining dimension of controlling teacher behavior remained significant in addition to the corresponding autonomy-support dimension. Findings are in line with existing research and highlight the importance of both teachers’ need-supportive and teachers’ need-thwarting behavior in daily secondary-education classrooms and contribute to deepen our insight in and understanding of factors (related to external regulation by teachers) leading to positive and negative developments of early adolescents’ self-regulation, and, in particular, their self-regulated learning.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's15
TijdschriftFrontiers in Psychology
StatusPublished - 23-nov.-2022
Extern gepubliceerdJa


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