Date of Award

Summer 2004

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership

First Advisor

Leslie, Lauren

Second Advisor

Melchert, Timothy P.

Third Advisor

Burkard, Alan W.


Research indicates that high-quality relationships between teachers and students positively impact classroom environment, academic performance and also ameliorate negative stressors in the lives of children. However, little attention has been paid to conceptualizing and measuring teacher-student relationship quality and predictors of it. There is an additional challenge when a teacher and student differ racially and/or culturally, as insensitivity on the part of schools and teachers toward students of color is prevalent in the literature (e.g., stereotyping, low expectations). The present study was conducted to assess whether the beliefs that White teachers hold about diversity, both personally and professionally, would predict the quality of relationships they would form with African-American versus white elementary school students. Both professional and personal beliefs about diversity were assessed using Pohan and Aguilar's (2001) measures. Relationship quality was self-rated by teachers-in-training and also by independent observers using Pianta's Student Teacher Relationship Scale. Results suggest that positive personal beliefs about diversity predicted higher relationship quality with African-American students. The absolute value of the correlation was similar with White students, but did not reach statistical significance. Professional beliefs about diversity did not predict relationship quality.



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