Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Kathy L. Schuh


Student-teacher relationships have been studied by numerous researchers from a variety of perspectives. Evidence consistently suggests that the quality of student-teacher relationships can have a profound impact on children’s social and cognitive development. Although researchers seem to agree on this point, their theoretical conceptualizations of the relationships and how they measure them are often quite different. This study provides empirical insights for both measurement integration and theory integration regarding students’ internal relationship representations.

Items from 14 different student-teacher relationship instruments were systematically combined and administered as a composite instrument to 628 college students. The participants responded to all items in reference to a single, recent relationship with a high school instructor. This allowed comparative examination of the original 14 scales independently for internal consistency and predictive validity. The study also examined a hypothesized multidimensional structural model of students’ internal representation of their relationship with a teacher based off relational schema theory. An alternative, more parsimonious model was examined as well.

The hypothesized model was not supported by the data. The study demonstrated that multiple measurement models of various items could produce acceptable fit. The study provided evidence as to which of the 170 items from the 14 original scales most closely measure the core of student-teacher relationship quality. The study exemplified the method effect dangers of negative item wording. Finally, the study provided strong evidence for conceptualizing student-teacher relationships as a single, global relationship quality construct.

Public Abstract

The student-teacher relationship can have a profound impact on the social and academic development of a child. Extensive research supports that statement; however, descriptions of the ideal student-teacher relationship are inconsistent. This is because there are several different theories that researchers reference when describing the relationships. Similarly, there are many questionnaires that researchers have used to measure the quality of student-teacher relationships and sometimes they differ drastically in their content. This study reviews 14 of the questionnaires from five theoretical perspectives, combines the collective 170 questionnaire items into one survey, and gathers data from 628 students. The findings provide insights related to measurement of student-teacher relationships and further our understanding of how students’ think about their relations with teachers.

A new model was proposed, but the data did not support it. The study did allow comparison about how useful each of the 14 questionnaires is. The study reminds us that multiple models can fit the same data. The study examined which items from each of the questionnaires most closely measure the core of student-teacher relationship quality. The study provides an example of how switching the wording of questions from positive to negative can influence the questionnaire results. Finally the study provided strong evidence for thinking about student-teacher relationships as a single, global relationship quality construct as opposed to a multi-dimensional construct.


publicabstract, factor structure, measurement, relationship, schema, student-teacher


xviii, 230




Copyright 2015 Jon Craig Barch