Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Nathan A. Long; Howard Carlson


Previous research has demonstrated that adolescent learning increases with a proactive type of student-teacher relationship. However, due to the lack of common expectations for a positive student-teacher relationship, a disconnection occurs for some students, who then may become disengaged at school and may not reach their full potential academically, socially, or developmentally. This mixed method sequential, exploratory design focused on a Midwestern secondary school of approximately 250 students. The disconnection between students and teachers was addressed by investigating positive student-teacher relationships; student achievement; and the connection between student-teacher relationships and achievement. Qualitative data were collected using focus groups of students and teachers who explored characteristics of positive student-teacher relationships and of student achievement. These data were then analyzed using data reduction that selected, focused, simplified, abstracted, and transformed the data as they appeared in field notes. Quantitative data were then collected using a survey that examined student perceptions of student-teacher relationships and their potential effect on student achievement. Descriptive analysis of survey data revealed themes that were then contrasted against the qualitative data. The overarching theme that emerged from the triangulated data suggested most students perceived that a relationship existed between student achievement and relationships they had with teachers, while most teachers' perceptions were in contrast to the students' perceptions. The research demonstrated that if students and teachers connect in the classroom with a more unified approach to building and sustaining positive student-teacher relationships, a more-prepared individual emerges contributing to the community, the workforce and society at large.