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Improving Academic Performance by Providing Students With Nurturing Positive Student-Teacher Relationships Dianne Kraus Wilkes University

IMPROVING ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE Abstract The purpose of this paper is to conduct a formal scientific reasoning review based upon the research and theory of establishing and maintaining effective relationships with students. The topic of the research is how to raise achievement levels by improving teacher-student

relationships and improving awareness of differences in perception due to cultural diversity. The research is based on five papers that were retrieved from the Wilkes University online library. It was concluded that all students will benefit from an authoritative teaching style, but effect size is greatest for minority students who respond to nurturing teacher relationships with improved student engagement and academic performance.

IMPROVING ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE Improving Academic Performance by Providing Students With Nurturing Positive Student-Teacher Relationships School improvement is the main concern of most school districts across the country, however the main focus of school district efforts may be focused on too many technical and curricular issues because current research shows that nurturing positive relationships between teachers and students has a significant effect on the academic performance of students. The purpose of this paper is to analyze current research on the academic gains that result from providing caring and supportive student-teacher relationships. Childrens socio-emotional well-being is critical to school success. (Bergin & Bergin, 2009). When a high school student is bonded to their school they feel a sense belonging which is developed though a network of peer and teacher relationships that make a child feel safe and

secure. When students feel secure in their student-teacher relationships they have greater interest and engagement in school and this is related to increased achievement and improved grades. (Bergin & Bergin, 2009). An urban study of low income, non-white high school students was conducted in three high schools with an enrollment of over 1200 students to determine if student- teacher relationships can promote student engagement and achievement. (Rodriguez, 2008) The students who participated were low, middle and high achieving students. In this study three data collection techniques were used including: in-depth semi-structured interviews, document analysis such as test score and report card data, and survey data. Four key themes emerged from the data: 1) knowing and feeling known by adults, 2) talking with adults, 3) experiencing a sense of personalization, and 4) feeling encouraged by adults and high expectations must occur to improve academic engagement and to build opportunities for marginalized populations of

IMPROVING ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE students. (Rodriguez, 2008) Although no quantitative data was reported by this article several

survey examples are given that demonstrate that teachers need to recognize a students struggles inside and outside of school in their social environment especially when they are students of poverty in order to have a long-term impact on their academic performance. Further research confirms that students want teachers to care about them but how do we define caring and is caring defined differently by students from different cultural backgrounds? A study was conducted in a diverse population of students from a New Jersey high school having low socioeconomic status. (Barr, Garrett, Rothman, 2009) The participants were African American, Hispanic and Caucasian ninth grade students who completed a qualitative questionnaire that consisted of two open ended questions. A recursive analysis was employed with a reliability at >.90. All of the students at the high school level responded that their

perception of how teachers demonstrate caring is reflected in academic support: White 55.6%, Latino 87% and African American 90.9% . Academic support behaviors were identified by the students as willingness to help with homework, showing respect for students, treating students fairly, and helping students with personal problems. Students who perceived that they received greater academic support also showed greater improvement in academic performance. It is important for teachers to realize that students from different ethnic groups may respond differently to the teachers behaviors and it is important to understand students perceptions regarding equity and relationships and how these factors may make a student feel isolated within the classroom. A study was conducted using causal modeling to test student background characteristics and their perceptions of the teacher-student relationship. (Brok, Tartwijk, Wubbels, 2010) Multi-group structural equation modeling was used to investigate causal paths between variables in four ethnic groups. The students were given a questionnaire on

IMPROVING ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE teacher-student interpersonal relationships. Information was also gathered on the students background, academic materials (books) found at home and report card grades. The results reported that the relationship between teacher influence and report card grade had the greatest effect size for non-white second-generational groups. The results from the study support that better contact and more closeness between teachers and students results in high student motivation especially for underserved students. In their research, they also identified characteristics of student-teacher relationships such as teacher dominance and teacher cooperation. (Marzano, 2007) This supports the viewpoint that the best teaching style is one of high control (dominance) and nurturance (cooperation) as is seen in an authoritative teacher. (Walker, 2009)

In this study, surveys asked students about their ability, beliefs, academic engagement, and their teachers practices and teaching style. The teachers chosen had authoritative (high control, high nurturance); authoritarian (high control, low nurturance) and permissive (low control, moderate nurturance) teaching styles. The authoritative teaching style produced the best student outcomes using positive instructional practices within a highly controlling and nurturing environment. (Walker, 2009) The effect size of teacher-student relationships is significant based on the research for school-age students and suggests that improving positive relationships and providing nurturing teaching styles can improve achievement for all students but especially for at-risk groups within our schools. Districts should consider student-teacher relationships and school environment as important for raising achievement levels. We need to increase sensitivity and warm positive interactions with students in order to meet their socio-emotional needs and increase academic expectations. Children will learn academically if they are cared for emotionally.

IMPROVING ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE References Bergin, C., & Bergin, D. (2009). Attachment in the classroom. Educational Psychology Rev. 21 , 141-170. Retrieved from http://emmerson.csc.wilkes.edu Brok, p. d., Tartwijk, J. v., & Wubbels, t. (2010). The differential effect of the teacher-student interpersonal relationship on student outcomes for students with different ethnic backgrounds. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80 , 199-221. Retrieved from http://emmerson.csc.wilkes.edu

Jason, B., Garrett, T., & Rothman, T. (2009). Perspectives on caring iin the classroom: Do they vary according to ethnicity or grade level? Adolescence, Vol 44 No. 175 , 505-521. Retrieved from http://emmerson.csc.wilkes.edu Marzano, R. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Rodriguez, L. (2008). Struggling to recognizee their existence: Examining student-adult relationships in the urban high school context. Urban Rev 40 , 436-453. Retrieved from http://emmerson.csc.wilkes.edu Walker, J. (2009). Authoritative classroom management: How control and nurturance work together. Theory into Practice 48 , 122-129. Retrieved from http://emmerson.csc.wilkes.edu