Teachers' Ratings of Relationships with Students: Links to Student and Teacher Characteristics
Buhl, Sara J.
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This exploratory study examined the associations between teacher-student relationship ratings and characteristics of students and teachers. A sample of fifth grade teachers (N = 115) and their students (N = 2070) were studied. Hierarchical linear modeling was employed to explore the associations between variables while taking both individual characteristics and classroom context into account. An investigation of within-teacher variation indicated that males, Asian students, Hispanic students, FARM eligible students, and students with high prior internalizing scores generally received lower closeness scores. A between-teacher (level-2) model was created to gain a better understanding of the influence of classroom context on teacher reports of closeness with their students. Classroom context was found to play a significant role in relationship ratings for students in general and also for subpopulations of students (i.e., male, high prior externalizing, or high prior internalizing). Teacher self efficacy was positively associated with relationship closeness. Longitudinal data were used to explore the association between the ratings that teachers had provided during previous years (with prior students) and ratings of closeness with their current students. Results indicated that teacher ratings of their previous students during prior years were a significant positive predictor of how their current relationships were rated. Implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.