Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Samuel D. McQuillin

Abstract

Students benefit both academically and psychosocially from close, supportive relationships with their teachers. Students who have close relationships with their teachers tend to adjust better to school, perform better academically, and engage in fewer problem behaviors. These benefits begin as early as preschool and mitigate several barriers to educational success for students from low-resource environments. However, it is unclear how changes in these relationships over time differentially influence positive outcomes. In this study, I test how changes in relationship closeness between students and teachers influence students’ expectations about future educational achievement. I also test how the strength of this association differs based on the academic expectations held by the student’s parents, the socioeconomic status of the student, and the student’s academic aptitude. Results indicate that changes in teacher-student closeness are positively related to changes in student educational expectations; this association is strongest for students whose parents hold low expectations, and/or for students with lower levels of academic aptitude. The results suggest that teacher-student relationship quality may be a beneficial intervention target for improving educational expectations in at-risk students.

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