Student teacher dating survey
This longitudinal study classified groups of children experiencing different trajectories of student-teacher relationship quality over the transition from preschool into school, and determined the strength of the association between different student-teacher relationship trajectories and childhood mental health problems in the second year of primary school.
A community sample of 460 Australian children were assessed in preschool (age 4), the first school year (age 5), and second school year (age 6).
All the previous studies examining student-teacher relationship trajectories and mental health outcomes in school children were conducted in the United States.
Furthermore, we are aware of only four studies that have examined the association between student-teacher relationships and psychosocial outcomes in Australian children (Harrison et al. The universal provision of one year of government-funded preschool for all 4–5 year old children in Australia, along with different distributions of socio-economic disadvantage, greater income mobility, and less spatial concentration of public housing, make it difficult to know how directly applicable findings from the United States would be to Australian children (Howard et al. Additionally, Australian education legislation differs from many OECD countries because children can start formal schooling from the age of 4 and a half, and must be enrolled by age 6.
Latent-class growth modelling identified two trajectories of student-teacher relationship quality: (1) a stable-high student-teacher relationship quality and (2) a moderate/declining student-teacher relationship quality trajectory.
Generalised linear models found that after adjusting for family demographic characteristics, having a stable high quality student-teacher relationship trajectory was associated with fewer parent-rated and teacher-rated total mental health problems, and fewer conduct, hyperactivity, and peer problems, and greater prosocial behaviour at age 6.
This lack of a positive connection, exhibited through less closeness and more conflict between the teacher and the child, may lead to diminishing self-esteem in the child, which in turn exacerbates mental health problems.
A major limitation of much of the previous research in this field is that the quality of student-teacher relationships was only assessed at a single point in time.
It is important to examine the pattern of children's student-teacher relationship quality over time as a measurement at a single point in time does not provide information about whether children's relationship quality is improving, declining, or remaining stable over time.
However, it is not known whether the effects found by O’Connor et al.
() would be similar when examining mental health outcomes earlier in childhood (e.g., second year of school), or when investigating more specific aspects of mental health outcomes, such as hyperactivity, conduct problems, peer problems, emotional symptoms, or prosocial behaviour. () is also limited by examining mental health outcomes based on only parent-ratings of behaviour in the home setting, and by only adjusting for a limited range of likely confounding influences (gender, family income-to-needs, and maternal attachment).