A study of the developing relationship between student and teacher during a quarter course : using the perceptions of the participants and two observers

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Emery, Theodore Prescott, 1928-
Barnes, Donald L.
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The purpose of this study was to make an in-depth study of a particular class as it developed a relationship with the teacher of that class, and to devise a conceptual model of the student-teacher relationship from the data gained. The information was gained from three basic sources: the students, the teacher, and two observers who attended every class session. The interpretations and perceptions of both the students and the teacher were collected by utilizing eight questionnaire forms which were interspersed between four distinct administrations of Barrett-Lennard's Relationship Inventory. This Inventory was used to measure the nature of the relationship at various points and to determine any significant changes in its nature. The insights and perceptions of the two observers were recorded each day that the class met on special forms devised for that purpose.The class studied was comprised of twenty-six elementary education majors enrolled in the course entitled "The Teaching of Language Arts in the Lower Elementary Grades." Four of the twenty-six students were males, and the instructor was a male. All but two of the students were college juniors. One observer was male, the other female, and both were Doctoral Fellows at Ball State University.The eight questionnaire forms devised were all basically openended, requiring original answers from the participants, thus avoiding the danger of suggestion. Consequently, the results were subject to the interpretive ability of the researcher.It was discovered that the student-teacher relationship started with very limited and somewhat neutral or negative expectations on the part of the students, but with more positive expectations on the part of the teacher. The relationship gradually became more positive in the perceptions of both teacher and students as the course progressed, but the students reported a slight retrenchment during the last two weeks of the course.Overall, the students perceived the relationship in the class being studied to be better than that which existed in most of their other classes, but, even so, as a class they were not strongly positive in their responses. The greatest agreement between class members with respect to the student-teacher relationship was found to occur on the responses to the second administration of the Inventory. After that, the agreement tended to dissipate gradually until on the fourth administration of the Inventory it became less than it had been on the first administration. The students viewed the teacher as a warm, friendly, sincere, and honest human being. However, neither the students nor the teacher were at all sure that the teacher really understood students on anything other than a superficial level. The traditional roles of teacher and student seemed to be somewhat inhibiting in the development of any very personal relationship.Based on the data from the study, the following conclusions seem warranted: (1) It is important for the teacher to learn the names of his students; (2) The use of personal anecdotes and experiences by the teacher, when appropriate, is an excellent way for him to reveal himself to his students; (3) The degree of congruence between students and teacher on role expectations has a definite effect on the student-teacher relationship; (4) The student- teacher relationship is dependent on the ability of the participants: to communicate with each other, both verbally and non-verbally; (5) An informal, non-threatening tone is very helpful in developing the student-teacher relationship; (6) It is important to differentiate between the individual worth of the student and his academic prowess of achievement; (7) The degree of congruence between the value systems of teacher and student affect the student-teacher relationship possibilities; (6) A good relationship depends on direct participation in the relationship by both parties; (9) A positive self-concept on the part of the teacher contributes greatly toward the development of a warm, empathic student-teacher relationship, provided it does not have pompous or egotistical overtones; (10) There is a tendency for continued exposure in the classroom to lead to some disenchantment on the part of students.