Valences and sense of personal autonomy with regard to professional development in Dutch primary teachers: Do decision contexts and age make a difference?

Main Article Content

Folke J. Glastra
Cornelis J. de Brabander


In this study on motivations concerning professional development (PD) we interviewed 95 primary school teachers in the Netherlands. We coded these data using the Unified Model of Task-specific Motivation (de Brabander & Martens, 2014) in different decision contexts concerning who decides about teacher participation in PD: school board, teacher teams, or individual teachers. We analysed the valences that teachers associated with PD activities, their experiences of autonomy, and whether and how these variables were affected by decision context and teacher age. Results show that decision contexts relate differently to valences and autonomy experiences. Positive autonomy and positive valences increased going from schoolboard to team to individual decision contexts. Whereas the literature on effective teacher PD stresses the importance of PD design features, our study is the first to empirically demonstrate the crucial influence of decision contexts. Among older teachers, teaching experience informed the selection of PD content to transfer to their classrooms. Younger teachers tended to first explore whether PD worked in their classrooms before deciding about adoption. Direct applicability emerged as a dominant criterion for evaluating PD. Decision context and autonomy regarding PD programmes play important roles in ensuring applicability. Our research revealed that the dominance of the direct applicability criterion was not motivated by student benefits alone. It was also based in an attitude of efficiency among primary teachers, reflecting growing work pressures and a general prioritisation of classroom teaching above all other tasks, including PD.

Article Details

How to Cite
Glastra, F. J., & de Brabander, C. J. (2021). Valences and sense of personal autonomy with regard to professional development in Dutch primary teachers: Do decision contexts and age make a difference?. Frontline Learning Research, 9(4), 1 - 34.


Apple, M. W., & Jungck, S. (1990). “You don't have to be a teacher to teach this unit”: Teaching, technology and gender in the classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 27, 227-251.

Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (2008). Scaling and testing multiplicative combinations in the expectancy–value model of attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38, 2222-2247.|

Avidov-Ungar, O. (2016). A model of professional development: Teachers’ perceptions of their professional development. Teachers and Teaching, 22(6), 653-669.

Ball, S. J. (2003). The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 18, 215-228.

Ball, D. L., & Cohen, D. K. (1999). Developing practice, developing practitioners: Toward a practice-based theory of professional education. Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice, 1, 3-22.

Ballet, K., & Kelchtermans, G. (2008). Workload and willingness to change: Disentangling the experience of intensification. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40, 47-67.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co.

Biesta, G., Priestley, M., & Robinson, S. (2015). The role of beliefs in teacher agency. Teachers and Teaching, 21(6), 624-640.

Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3-15.

Borko, H., Elliott, R., and Uchiyama, K. (2002). Professional development: a key to Kentucky's educational reform effort. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 969-987.

Bourdieu, P. (1990). The Logic of Practice, translated by Richard Nice. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Carstensen, L. L., Isaacowitz, D. M., & Charles, S. T. (1999). Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist, 54(3), 165-181.

Carver, C. S. (2006). Approach, avoidance, and the self-regulation of affect and action. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 105-110.

Clark, R., Livingstone, D. W., & Smaller, H., Eds. (2012). Teacher learning and power in the knowledge society. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. (1999). Relationships of Knowledge and Practice: Teacher Learning in Communities. Review of Research in Education, 24, 249-305.

Darling Hammond, L. (2005). Teaching as a profession: Lessons in teacher preparation and professional development. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(3), 237-240.

Darling Hammond, L, & Richardson, N. (2009). Teacher learning: What matters? Educational Leadership, 66(5), 46-53.

Day, C., Elliot, B., & Kington, A. (2005) Reform, Standards and Teacher Identity: Challenges of Sustaining Commitment. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 563-577.

Day, C, & Gu, Q. (2007). Variations in the conditions for teachers. Oxford Review of Education, 33(4), 423-443.

de Brabander, C. J., & Glastra, F. J. (2018). Testing a unified theory of task-specific motivation: How teachers appraise three professional development activities. Frontline Learning Research, 6, 54–76.

de Brabander, C. J., & Glastra, F. J. (2021). The unified model of task-specific motivation and teachers’ motivation to learn about teaching and learning supportive modes of ICT use. Education and Information Technologies, 26, 393-420.

de Brabander, C. J., & Martens, R. L. (2014). Towards a unified theory of task-specific motivation. Educational Research Review, 11, 27-44.

de Brabander, C. J., & Martens, R. L. (2018). Empirical exploration of a unified model of task-specific motivation. Psychology, 9, 540–560.

Desimone, L M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181-199.

Devos, G, Tuytens, M, & Hulpia, H. (2014). Teachers’ organizational commitment: Examining the mediating effects of distributed leadership. The American Journal of Education, 20, 205-231. 0195-6744/2014/12002-0003$10.00

Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (2020). From expectancy-value theory to situated expectancy-value theory: A developmental, social cognitive, and sociocultural perspective on motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61.

Elliot, A. J. (2006). The hierarchical model of approach-avoidance motivation. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 111-116.

Elliot, A. J., & Church, M. A. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 218-232.

Emo, W. (2015). Teachers’ motivations for initiating innovations. Journal of Educational Change, 16(2), 171-195.

Epskamp, S., Cramer, A. O. J., Waldorp, L. J., Schmittmann, V. D., & Borsboom, D. (2012). Qgraph: Network visualizations of relationships in psychometric data. Journal of Statistical Software, 48(4), 1-18.

Evans, L. (2014). Leadership for professional development and learning: Enhancing our understanding of how teachers develop. Cambridge Journal of Education, 44(2), 179-198.

Fox, R. K., Muccio, L. S., White, C. S., & Tian, J. (2015). Investigating advanced professional learning of early career and experienced teachers through program portfolios. European Journal of Teacher Education, 38(2), 154-179.

Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915-945.

Gewirtz, S., Maguire, M., Neumann, E., & Towers, E. (2019). What’s wrong with ‘deliverology’? Performance measurement, accountability and quality improvement in English secondary education, Journal of Education Policy, 36(4), 504-529.

Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago IL: Aldine.

Hall, C., & Noyes, A. (2009). New regimes of truth: The impact of performative school self evaluation systems on teachers' professional identities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(6), 850-856.

Hardy, I., & Lingard, B. (2008). Teacher professional development as an effect of policy and practice: A bourdieuian analysis. Journal of Education Policy, 23, 63-80.

Hargreaves, A. (2003). Teaching in the knowledge society: Education in the age of insecurity. New York and London: Teachers College Press.

Hashweh, M. Z. (2003). Teacher accommodative change. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(4), 421-434.

Hawley, W., & Valli, L. (1999). The essentials of effective professional development: A new consensus. In L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes (Eds.), Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice (pp.127-150). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hochberg, E. D., & Desimone, L. M. (2010). Professional development in the accountability context: Building capacity to achieve standards. Educational Psychologist, 45(2), 89-106.

Huberman, M. (1989). The professional life cycle of teachers. Teachers College Record, 91, 31-57.

Huberman, M., Gronauer, M.-M., & Marti, J. (1993). The lives of teachers. London: Cassell.

Jansen in de Wal, J., den Brok, P. J., Hooijer, J. G., Martens, R. L., & van den Beemt, A., (2014). Teachers' engagement in professional learning: Exploring motivational profiles. Learning and Individual Differences, 36, 27-36.

Karsten, S. (1999). Neoliberal education reform in the Netherlands. Comparative Education, 35(3), 303-317.

Kennedy, A., Christie, D., Fraser, C., Reid, L., McKinney, S., Welsh, M., Wilson, A., & Griffiths, M. (2008). Teacher learning: Key informants’ perspectives on teacher learning in Scotland. British Journal of Educational Studies, 56(4), 400–419.

Kennedy, M. M. (2016). How does professional development improve teaching? Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 945–980.

Knight, R. (2015). Postgraduate student teachers’ developing conceptions of the place of theory in learning to teach: ‘more important to me now than when I started’. Journal of Education for Teaching, 41(2), 145-160.

Krapp, A. (2005). Basic needs and the development of interest and intrinsic motivational orientations. Learning and Instruction, 15(5), 381-395.

Kwakman, K. (2003). Factors affecting teachers’ participation in professional learning activities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(2), 149-170.

Kyndt, E., Gijbels, D., Grosemans, I., & Donche, V. (2016). Teachers’ Everyday Professional Development Mapping Informal Learning Activities, Antecedents, and Learning Outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1111–1150.

Leithwood, K., Steinbach, R., & Jantzi, D. (2002). School leadership and teachers’ motivation to implement accountability policies. Educational Administration Quarterly, 38(1), 94-119.

Little, J. W. (1993). Teachers' professional development in a climate of educational reform. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15, 129-151.

Little, J. W. (2006). Professional community and professional development in the learning-centered school. Arlington, VA: Education Association National.

Little, J. W., & Bartlett, L. (2010). The teacher workforce and problems of educational equity. Review of Research in Education, 34, 285-328.

Locke, T., Vulliamy, G., Webb, R., et al. (2005). Being a ‘professional’ primary school teacher at the beginning of the 21st century: A comparative analysis of primary teacher professionalism in New Zealand and England. Journal of Education Policy, 20, 555-581.

Lortie, D. (1975). Schoolteacher. A Sociological Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Maskit, D. (2011). Teachers’ attitudes toward pedagogical changes during various stages of professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(5), 851-860.

Meyers, B., Meyers, J., & Gelzheiser, L. (2001). Observing leadership roles in shared decision making: A preliminary analysis of three teams. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 12(4), 277-312.

Milner, H. R. (2013). Policy reforms and de-professionalization of teaching. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved from

Ministerie van OCW (2012). Nota Werken in het Onderwijs 2012. [Memorandum Working in the field of education] The Hague, The Netherlands: Ministerie van OCW.

Moore, A., Edwards, G., Halpin, D., & George, R. (2002). Compliance, resistance and pragmatism: The (re) construction of schoolteacher identities in a period of intensive educational reform. British Educational Research Journal, 28(4), 551-565.|

Nir, A., & Bogler, R. (2008). The antecedents of teacher satisfaction with professional development programs. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(2), 377-386.

Onderwijsraad (2005). Kwaliteit en inrichting van de lerarenopleidingen. Briefadvies aan de Tweede Kamer [Quality and organisation of teacher education. Advice letter to the Lower House of Parliament]. Den Haag: Onderwijsraad.

Onderwijscoöperatie (2016). De staat van de leraar 2016. [The state of the teacher 2016] Retrieved from

Pearson, L. C., & Moomaw, W. (2006) Continuing validation of the Teaching Autonomy Scale. The Journal of Educational Research, 100(1), 44-51,

Peetsma, T. (2000). Future Time Perspective as a Predictor of School Investment. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 44(2), 177-192.

Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What makes professional development effective? Strategies that foster curriculum implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44, 921–958.

Philipp, A., & Kunter, M. (2013). How do teachers spend their time? a study on teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 35, 1-12.

Reay, D. (2015). Habitus and the psychosocial: Bourdieu with feelings. Cambridge Journal of Education, 45(1), 9-23.

Reeve, J., Nix, G., & Hamm, D. (2003). Testing models of the experience of self-determination in intrinsic motivation and the conundrum of choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 375–392.

Research voor Beleid (2011). Tussenmeting Convenant Leerkracht 2011 [Intermediate evaluation Covenant teacher 2011]. Zoetermeer, Netherlands: Research voor Beleid.

Richter, D., Kunter, M., Klusmann, U., Lüdtke, O., & Baumert, J. (2011). Professional development across the teaching career: Teachers’ uptake of formal and informal learning opportunities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(1), 116-126.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. The American Psychologist, 55, 68-78.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2020). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61:101860.

Schibeci, R. A., & Hickey, R. L. (2004). Dimensions of autonomy: Primary teachers' decisions about involvement in science professional development. Science Education, 88(1), 119-145.|

Schmidt, R. A., & Bjork, R. A. (1992). New conceptualizations of practice: Common principles in three paradigms suggest new concepts for training. Psychological science, 3(4), 207-217.

Scribner, J. P., Sawyer, R. K., Watson, S. T., & Myers, V. L. (2007). Teacher teams and distributed leadership: A study of group discourse and collaboration. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(1), 67-100.

Schunk, D. H., & DiBenedetto, M. K. (2020). Motivation and social cognitive theory. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 60.

SEOR (2012). Inventarisatie van lacunes in het opleidings- en scholingsaanbod: Eindrapport [Inventory of shortcomings in education and training opportunities: Final report]. Rotterdam, Netherlands: SEOR.

Shulman, L. (2004). The Wisdom of Practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2014). Teacher Self-Efficacy and Perceived Autonomy: Relations with Teacher Engagement, Job Satisfaction, and Emotional Exhaustion. Psychological Reports, 114(1), 68-77.

Smylie, M. A. (1992). Teacher participation in school decision-making - Assessing willingness to participate. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 14(1), 53-67.

Stamos (2013). Werkgelegenheid, in personen, in het basisonderwijs [Employment in primary education]. Retrieved from

Starkey, L., Yates, A., Meyer, L. H., Hall, C., Taylor, M., Stevens, S., & Toia, R. (2009). Professional development design: Embedding educational reform in New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 181-189.

Stevenson, H., Carter, B., & Passy, R. (2007) ‘New professionalism’, workforce remodelling and the restructuring of teachers’ work. International Journal of Leadership for Learning, 11(15). Retrieved from

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks: Sage

Swann, M., McIntyre, D., Pell, T., Hargreaves, L., & Cunningham, M. (2010). Teachers' conceptions of teacher professionalism in England in 2003 and 2006. British Educational Research Journal, 36, 549 -571.|

Thoonen, E. E. J., Sleegers, P. J. C., Oort, F. J., Peetsma, T. T. D., & Geijsel, F. P. (2011). How to improve teaching practices: The role of teacher motivation, organizational factors, and leadership practices. Educational Administration Quarterly, 47(3), 496-536.

Van Eekelen, I. M., Vermunt, J. D., & Boshuizen, H. P. A. (2006). Exploring teachers' will to learn. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(4), 408–423.

Van Duzor, A. G. (2011). Capitalizing on teacher expertise: Motivations for contemplating transfer from professional development to the classroom. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(4), 363-374.

Vermunt, J. D., & Endedijk, M. D. (2011). Patterns in teacher learning in different phases of the professional career. Learning and Individual Differences, 21, 294–302.

Vescio, V., Ross, D., & Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 80-91.

Wallace, C. S., & Priestley, M. (2011). Teacher beliefs and the mediation of curriculum innovation in Scotland: A socio‐cultural perspective on professional development and change. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43(3), 357-381.

Webb, R., Vulliamy, G., Hämäläinen, S., Sarja, A., Kimonen, E., & Nevalainen, R. (2004). A comparative analysis of primary teacher professionalism in England and Finland. Comparative Education, 40(1), 83-107.

Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy–value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 68-81.

Wilson, S. M., & Berne, J. (1999). Teacher learning and the acquisition of professional knowledge: An examination of research on contemporary professional development. Review of Research in Education, 24, 173-209.