Students’ Relationships with Teachers

Authored by: Kathryn R. Wentzel

Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development

Print publication date:  May  2010
Online publication date:  June  2010

Print ISBN: 9780805859485
eBook ISBN: 9780203874844
Adobe ISBN: 9781135283872

10.4324/9780203874844.ch6

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Abstract

There is growing consensus that the nature and quality of children’s relationships with their teachers play a critical and central role in motivating and engaging students to learn, and teaching them what they need to know to become knowledgeable and productive citizens (Becker & Luthar, 2002; Pianta, Hamre, & Stuhlman, 2003; Stipek, 2004). Effective teachers are typically described as those who create relationships with students that are emotionally close, safe, and trusting, that facilitate provisions of instrumental help and communication of positive and high expectations for performance, and that foster a more general ethos of community and caring in their classrooms. Many researchers interested in children’s relationships with teachers have focused exclusively on the affective nature and quality of these relationships. In this regard, principles of attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969; Bretherton, 1987), self-determination theory (R. M. Ryan & Deci, 2000), and social support perspectives have guided research on teacher–student relationships at all levels of schooling and with respect to a broad range of student outcomes. Broader socialization perspectives that take into account multiple provisions of teacher–student relationships also have contributed to this literature (Wentzel, 2004). In each case, however, these relationship qualities are believed to support the development of students’ emotional well-being and positive sense of self, motivational orientations for social and academic outcomes, and actual social and academic skills. In support of these notions is a growing body of evidence that the affective nature and qualities of teacher–student relationships are related significantly to a broad range of positive student outcomes.

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