Background of the Study
Teachers play an important role in the trajectory of students throughout the formal schooling experience (Baker, Grant, & Morlock, 2008). Although most research regarding teacher-student relationships investigate the elementary years of schooling, teachers have the unique opportunity to support students’ academic and social development at all levels of schooling (Baker et al., 2008; Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998; McCormick, Cappella, O’Connor, & McClowry, in press). Aligned with attachment theory (Ainsworth, 1982; Bowlby, 1969), positive teacher-student relationships enable students to feel safe and secure in their learning environments and provide scaffolding for important social and academic skills (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor, Dearing, & Collins, 2011; Silver, Measelle, Armstron, & Essex, 2005). Teachers who support students in the learning environment can positively impact their social and academic outcomes, which is important for the long-term trajectory of school and eventually employment (Baker et al., 2008; O’Connor et al., 2011; Silver et al., 2005).
When teachers form positive bonds with students, classrooms become supportive spaces in which students can engage in academically and socially productive ways (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). Positive teacher-student relationships are classified as having the presence of closeness, warmth, and positivity (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). Students who have positive relationships with their teachers use them as a secure base from which they can explore the classroom and school setting both academically and socially, to take on academic challenges and work on social-emotional development (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). This includes, relationships with peers, and developing self-esteem and self-concept (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). Through this secure relationship, students learn about socially appropriate behaviours as well as academic expectations and how to achieve these expectations (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). Students in low-income schools can especially benefit from positive relationships with teachers (Murray & Malmgren, 2005).
Students in high-poverty urban schools may benefit from positive teacher-student relationships even more than students in high income schools, because of the risks associated with poverty (Murray & Malmgren, 2005). Risk outcomes associated with poverty include high rates of high school dropout, lower rates of college applications, low self-efficacy, and low self-confidence (Murray & Malmgren, 2005). There are several factors that can protect against the negative outcomes often associated with low-income schooling, one of which is a positive and supportive relationship with an adult, most often a teacher (Murray & Malmgren, 2005).
Low-income students who have strong teacher-student relationships have higher academic achievement and have more positive social-emotional adjustment than their peers who do not have a positive relationship with a teacher (Murray & Malmgren, 2005).
There is substantial research on the importance of teacher-student relationships in the early elementary years (Pianta, 1992; Hamre & Pianta 2001). However, little is known about the effects of teacher-student relationships on high school students. Studies show that early teacher-student relationships affect early academic and social outcomes as well as future academic outcomes (Pianta 1992; Hamre & Pianta 2001), but few researchers have looked at the effects of teacher-student relationships in later years of schooling. Researchers who have investigated teacher-student relationships for older students have found that positive teacher student relationships are associated with positive academic and social outcomes for high school students (Alexander, Entwisle, & Horset, 1997; Cataldi & Kewall Ramani, 2009).
Parents and educators quickly accept that students need to be taught from an effective curriculum in order to be successful in school. However, although most parents would say that they would want their children to have positive relationships with their teachers, they may view a close teacher-student relationship as less than necessary. Research suggests that this variable has a significant influence on student achievement. In order for students to learn what is offered from an effective curriculum, they must be able to access support from their teachers (Klem & Connell, 2004).
In this age of high stakes testing and accountability for both students and teachers, it is important to examine the evidence to determine if these relationships are indeed a factor in raising student achievement. Advocates for the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act assert that the way to improve student achievement is to focus on test scores. However, learning is a process that involves cognitive and social psychological dimensions, and both processes should be considered if academic achievement is to be maximized (Hallinan, 2008).
An extensive examination of the variables that impact learning should include studying the factors that impact students’ attitudes regarding school and the relationships they form with their teachers. Two arguments can be made for the identification of these factors. First, if students like school they reap important social advantages such as building friendships, gaining respect for peers and adults, and learning social skills. Second, if students like school their academic performance is enhanced (Hallinan, 2008). Regardless of if a teacher-student relationship is close or fraught with conflict, that relationship seems to both contribute to, and be an indicator of, a child’s adjustment to school (Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004). It is important to note that during the research process this author relied primarily upon juried sources.
Statement of the problem
Over the past 10 years, research on student–teacher relationships has focused on the ways in which these relationships may affect students’ peer relations, parent–child relationships, academic competence, and social and emotional adjustment (for review see Pianta, Hamre, & Stuhlman, 2003). students who have difficulty forming supportive relationships with teachers are at greater risk of school failure. Poor relationships may be conceptualized as producing concurrent risk, with conflict between a student and teacher that leads to problems in the classroom during that school year, or chronic risk, with students developing a pattern of negative relationships with teachers over time. Unfortunately, most of the research on poor student–teacher relationships as a source of risk has focused on elementary school students. This study focus on the students teachers relationship and academic performance in secondary schools.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to determine teacher-student relationship and academic performance of secondary school students in Phalga Local Government Area of Rivers State. Specifically the study will address the following:
The study will also discuss student-teacher relationship and teacher-student relationship and social outcome of students. The work will also look at the relationship between teacher and student and the academic outcome of the students.
The study will also examine the perception of teachers of teacher-students relationship and academic outcome of the students. Finally, the study will investigate students’ perception of teacher-student relationship and academic outcome
Significance of the Study
The study will be of a great benefit to students, teachers, policy makers, and educational administrators.
The study will enhance students’ performance in that it provide medium through which their relationship with their teachers can be enhanced.
The study will also provide teachers with information about students-teachers relationship ways such relationship can be improved upon.
The study will equally provide vital information to policy makers on how best to formulate educational policies that will encourage student-teachers relationship in the school system.
Finally, the study will provide useful information to school administrators about the usefulness of students-teachers relationship and how to enhance such relationship to improve the academic performance of the students.
Scope/Delimitation of the Study
The scope of the study covers students-teachers relationship and students’ academic performance
The study is limited to 5 out of 25 secondary schools in Phalga Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Limitations of the Study
During the course of this research work, I was confronted with some problems which militated against a thorough investigation. Finance was a major constraint as the research mandated my travelling from my location to the location of the school, also, the procurement of materials for the study was another constraint put forward by lack of finance.
Definition of Terms
Relationship: the way in which two or more people are connected
Teacher: a person who teaches in a school
Secondary School Students: these are individuals studying in a school meant for young people between the ages of 11 to 16 years.
Academic Performance: This refers to the intellectual ability of how the children perform in test or examination at the end of the session.
Local Government Area: this is an administrative division of a country that a local government is responsible for.