Improving Teacher-student Relationships: An Interpretive Approach to Policy Implementation

Robinson, Casey, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Heinecke, Walter, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Teacher-student relationships influence a range of student outcomes including affective, behavioral, and academic variables. The role of teacher-student relationships is of particular interest in education reform because it is an area where schools and districts have the ability to shape interventions. Yet, much of the reform in this area is externally driven and approached from an evidence-based framework. There is little insight into the unique obstacles, beliefs, and values in individual schools. Understanding this local context is essential for reform and change to occur. This study began by asking two key questions: What school-level political and normative factors do teachers identify as influencing the definition, formation, and maintenance of teacher-student relationships in secondary schools and how do teacher perspectives comport with the assumptions underlying the evidence-based tools used by the district to measure these constructs?

Through observations in two high schools, and interviews with teachers, principals, and district administrators, this study answered those two key research questions, providing nuanced perceptions and reactions from teachers and principals about the definition and role of teacher-student relationships, and the impact of school level programs and policies on these same relationships. The study also focused on how and why the district used an evidence-based tool in the district and school evaluation process.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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