Teacher autonomy in Sweden and Finland : Investigating decision-making and control comparatively

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för pedagogik, didaktik och utbildningsstudier

Abstract: This thesis aims to investigate and compare Swedish and Finnish teachers´ perceived autonomy through a quantitative analysis of the empirical data from a survey conducted within the research project Teacher autonomy in Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Germany (Wermke & Salokangas, 2018). Within the project, the concept teacher autonomy is viewed as multidimensional and highly dependent upon national context, why an analytical device has been constructed in order to investigate teachers´ perceived autonomy comparatively. Based on conceptual research, the device comprises four domains of teachers´ work where autonomy can be exercised (educational, social, developmental and administrational), and three different levels of autonomy (classroom, school, profession). In this thesis, the analytical device is used to compare the perceived autonomy of the Swedish and Finnish teachers participating in the survey. The theoretical foundation of this thesis is Richard M Ingersoll´s research on power distribution in schools, and the construction of the survey is based upon his operationalization of teacher autonomy as teachers´ influence over important decisions that affect their work, and how teachers´ decisions are evaluated and controlled. The results indicates that both Swedish and Finnish teachers are autonomous when it comes to educational issues, but that Finnish teachers are more individually oriented and experience more control from parents, whereas Swedish teachers seem to make more decisions collegially and perceive themselves as more controlled by colleagues and the school management. Moreover, the answers from the respondents suggested that Finnish teachers have more influence over their continuous professional development, while Swedish teachers are responsible for administrative decisions to a higher extent. In order to interpret and discuss the results they are related to different characteristics of the respective national contexts.

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