The relationship between teacher caring and student engagement in academic high school classes

1999 1999

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Abstract (summary)

Lack of student engagement is a serious problem, particularly at the secondary level. Engagement is important because it affects students' psychological commitment to learning. Relatedness (a need to be connected to the social surround) is a prerequisite for engagement. The purpose of this study was to (1) assess the strength of the relationship between teacher caring and student engagement in academic high school classes, and (2) develop an instrument to examine student perceptions of teacher caring and engagement in high school.

Using a questionnaire, I studied 338 juniors and seniors in two public high schools. A pilot study was conducted to determine the reliability and validity of the instrument. The students completed a 44-item survey eliciting their perceptions of (1) teacher caring and (2) their own level of engagement in one academic class they had taken during the current school year.

Analysis of the responses indicated that teacher caring and student engagement were significantly correlated (r = .697) at the .01 level with teacher caring accounting for 47% of the variance in student engagement. The grand alpha (a reliability statistic) was .97 for items in the teacher caring section, and .93 for items in the student engagement section. Three factors for teacher caring and three factors for student engagement emerged from factor analysis.

Anova analysis indicated that perceptions of teacher caring and student engagement vary by academic department. Both were significant at 0.000, with F scores of 20.24 for teacher caring and 14.09 for student engagement. The R2 for teacher caring by subject was .196 (20%) while the R 2 for student engagement by subject was .145 (15%).

Arguments for caring are often based on a philosophical perspective. This study provides empirical data showing that perceived teacher caring plays a significant role in perceived student engagement. It points to teacher caring as a potentially important response for the problem of student disengagement in secondary school, discusses implications, makes recommendations, and suggests areas for future research.

Indexing (details)

Secondary education;
Educational psychology
0533: Secondary education
0727: Curricula
0727: Teaching
0525: Educational psychology
Identifier / keyword
Education; Caring; Engagement; High school
The relationship between teacher caring and student engagement in academic high school classes
Freese, Stephanie Fern
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 60/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780599346888, 0599346884
Osterman, Karen
Hofstra University
University location
United States -- New York
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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