The student-teacher relationship, at the heart of academic success

The relationship between a student and his teacher is a key factor in academic success, especially among the youngest. However, the quality of this varies according to the sex, the economic situation and the behavior of the children. This is what emerges from analyzes of data from the longitudinal study of the development of children in Quebec carried out by researchers from the University of Montreal and the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

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The relationship between a student and his or her teacher is a key factor in school success, particularly for younger children. However, the quality of this relationship varies according to gender, economic status and the behaviour of the children.

By Nathalie Côté
Article updated in 2019 by Maryline Barrette-Dubé

This was the finding of analyses of data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development conducted by researchers at the Université de Montréal and the Institut de la statistique du Québec back in 2012. According to the 2012 booklet, it should be noted that the majority of teachers and students feel they have a positive relationship, a figure that decreases, however, as children grow older. In fact, 68 % of kindergarten teachers feel they have a close and warm relationship with the little ones compared to 47 % of those in fourth grade. As for students who say they like their teacher, the rate drops from 89 % to 75 % between first and fourth grade.

In addition, teachers report more positive relationships with girls and more of them love their teacher. “This different relational experience […] could be accentuated by the fact that the great majority of preschool and first cycle elementary school teachers are female. Women teachers may feel closer to girls than boys and more comfortable working with them. Unfortunately, the data do not allow this hypothesis to be supported, ”one writes.

The same tendency is also observed with regard to the most disadvantaged children and those with behavioral problems. Teachers generally feel they have a less good relationship with these children. These results are considered worrying given that “students from disadvantaged backgrounds who experience caring and helpful relationships with their teachers early in their school career perceive their school environment in a more positive light”. As for students with behavioral problems, they show better adaptability and better academic results if they have experienced warm relationships with their teachers upon entering school.

Furthermore, in all cases, we notice that the teacher's feelings of confidence and effectiveness have a positive impact on the academic performance of young people around the age of ten. “From around 18 % to 25 % teachers of the children in this analysis say they do not feel very confident and effective in their interactions with them. […] It could be useful to help teachers to develop varied strategies adapted to the challenges posed by certain children. This could be done through professional development sessions or through the establishment of professional support measures. For students, early intervention programs that promote self-regulation of behaviors and emotions as well as the development of social and cognitive skills could help them meet the challenge of establishing a teacher-teacher relationship. positive pupil ”, one writes.

Positively influencing intrinsic academic motivation

A study led by Marie-Hélène Véronneau in 2017 revealed that “the relationship that students develop with their teacher in the third year of secondary school positively influences their intrinsic academic motivation in the following year. This result was replicated the following year, that is, when students move from the fourth to the fifth year of secondary school. "

This concern is also present among primary school teachers. There is even talk of new school supervision practices such as loop teaching, or the fact of keeping the same student-teachers for at least two consecutive years. Indeed, the looping "Contributes not only to obtaining better results in mathematics, reading and writing, but also to the acquisition and enrichment of vocabulary".

Benefits for teachers too!

The quality of the teacher-learner relationship is also a reflection of student behavior. According to review of the literature on the teacher-student relationship, “Students who want to be approved by their teacher tend to adopt behaviors of effort and surpassing oneself when performing school tasks. "

According to this same study, the benefits of a positive relationship are reflected in particular by proximity, ie "sharing common motivations, working to achieve common goals, informal contacts outside the classroom".

Who says new school year also means new relationships, new sharing, and new things to learn from both sides. Happy school year, dear teachers!

To continue your reflection, discover how Mr. Éric Théroux uses the Process Communication® model to serve his relationship with his students. Read the article here or listen to the educational meeting.

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