Student-teacher relationships: The impact of students' relationships with teachers on student school engagement, academic competence, and behavior

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Tanya L. Eckert


Student-teacher relationships, Academic competence, Classroom engagement, Problem behavior, On-task behavior

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Education | Educational Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Children's attachments to early caregivers, either inside or outside of the home, have consequences on their development. One adult relationship that is particularly salient to children outside of the home is their relationship with teachers. As children spend more of their time at school and working with teachers, the development of positive academic, behavioral, and social competence are placed in the hands of these adults. The current study explored how student-teacher relationships influence children's academic and behavioral development as evaluated by both teacher and student variables. A total of 10 third-grade teachers completed the Student-Teacher Relationship Scale (Pianta, 1992a), the Academic Competence Evaluation Scales- Teacher Form (DiPerna & Elliot, 2000), and the Social Skills Rating System- Problem Behaviors (Gresham & Elliot, 1990). A total of 80 third-grade student participants completed the Student Perception of Teacher Relationships Scale, a newly developed measure assessing students' perceptions of the relationship they share with their teacher. In addition, students' academic competence was evaluated with Curriculum-Based Measurement Oral Reading Fluency (Shinn & Shinn, 2002) and Curriculum-Based Measurement Mathematics Fluency probes (Shinn, 2002). Student behavior was evaluated through classroom observations utilizing the Behavioral Observation of Students in Schools (Shapiro, 1996). Results indicated that there was no relationship between students' and teachers' perceptions of the student-teacher relationship. Teacher perspectives of the student-teacher relationship predicted indirect measures of student problem behavior and direct measures of student classroom engagement. Student perspectives of the student-teacher relationship did not predict any student outcome variables. Limitations, directions for future research, and implications for school practice are discussed.