A study of care and support among teachers and students in a small suburban middle -senior high school

Melissa Gail Herb, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Caring and supportive school environments and student-teacher relationships promote students' sense of belongingness in school and commitment to their learning, which may in turn improve their achievement in school as well as their psychological well being. This dissertation explores teachers' and students' definitions, descriptions, and accounts of caring and supportive school environments and adult-student relationships in order to discover whether teachers and students have congruent or divergent beliefs about caring and supportive school environments and adult-student relationships. The researcher gathered data through planned formal and impromptu experiential interviews with student and teacher participants over four months and then analyzed the data by looking for themes, following the approach to data analysis of Boyatzis (1998). The results show that students define caring and supportive schools as those in which their teachers deliberately and intentionally provide academic help to students. Such teachers attend to the needs of students and create classroom environments that allow students to access help. The results also show that teachers define caring and supportive schools in broader terms than students. While they also describe the importance of meeting students' needs and creating classroom environments and building relationships that support students' academic achievement, teachers also describe more thoroughly the importance of school and classroom atmospheres in which teachers and students are mutually respectful and in which discipline, safety, and security is maintained for all. In addition to implications for further study, the results of this study inform a variety of important policy initiatives at the secondary school and higher education levels.

Subject Area

Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Herb, Melissa Gail, "A study of care and support among teachers and students in a small suburban middle -senior high school" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168027.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3168027

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