A new study
has found that having a positive relationship with a teacher when a
child is 10 to 11 years old can be linked to “prosocial” behaviours such
as cooperation and altruism, as well as reducing problem classroom
behaviours such as aggression and oppositional behaviour.
The study used data from a major longitudinal study of Swiss children among
a culturally diverse sample of 7 to 15 year olds, and involved 1,067
students randomly sampled across 56 of the city’s schools. Only students
who experienced a change of teacher when the student was 9 or 10 were
used for the study, with data gathered from teachers, students, and
their parents on an annual and later biannual basis.
Using this data, Ingrid Obsuth and her team were able to “score” the
children on over 100 different characteristics or experiences that could
potentially account for good or bad behaviour. They then matched
students in pairs with similar scores in all respects except for how
they felt about their teacher, and how the teacher felt about them.
Students who had a more positive relationship with their teacher
displayed more prosocial behaviour towards peers (on average 18%, and
10% more up to two years later), and up to 38% less aggressive behaviour
(and 9% less up to four years later), over students who felt ambivalent
or negative towards their teacher.
Source: A Non-bipartite Propensity Score Analysis of
the Effects of Teacher–Student Relationships on Adolescent Problem and
Prosocial Behavior (2016), Journal of Youth and Adolescence