An exploration of how potential early school leavers and teachers in disadvantaged post primary schools perceive their relationships
Citation:Markos E. Rigos, 'An exploration of how potential early school leavers and teachers in disadvantaged post primary schools perceive their relationships', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). School of Psychology, 2003, pp 388
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This research explores teacher - student relationships’ potential role as a protective factor in the prevention of early school leaving. To this end this research explores teacher - student relationships as students and teachers in various designated disadvantaged school settings experience them. The aim of the study is to develop a way of investigation that arrives at a holistic understanding of teacher - student relationships while at the same time offers a methodological framework that would render this exploration framework useful to the pragmatic demands of everyday teaching practice. Thus, this research proceeds with an exploration that does justice both to the subjective and to the systemic dimension of teacher - student relationships. However, experiencing a teacher - student relationship involves more than referring to personal mental representations and to interpersonal systemic structures. The perceived lived experience that both students and teachers uniquely interpret is the dynamic factor that constantly recreates their relationships. The incorporation of an interpretative epistemology with phenomenological influences contributes to exploring this dimension of lived experience. Thus, for the exploration of teacher student relationships a number of qualitative methods was used and information was elicited from a selected number of teachers and students in three secondary school settings. The major methods include a range of interviews and observation techniques. Parents and other school staff were also interviewed and the information was structured around four teacher - student relationship cases. The information is presented in summarised narratives aiming to create a vicarious experience of the participants’ beliefs, attitudes and understandings for the reader. Through its theoretical framework and the rich contextual information provided this thesis analyses, discusses and assumes potential transferability of its findings to other similar contexts. The contribution of this research lies primarily in its method. The case study findings emphasise the importance of individual interpretations and the dynamic nature of teacher - student relationships. Through the cases it is demonstrated how people interpret the meaning of their relationship in various ways and how their emotional investment ranges to such a degree that to some students the personal side of a teacher – student relationship seems to have no evident function for their resilience in the school system while for others it seems to be of outstanding importance. At the same time the perceived importance of a teacher - student relationship may change over time and teachers’ persistent effort to improve their classroom climate seems to be an important factor in the face of the scarce resources they have. The thesis concludes with a number of suggestions for its methodological improvement and briefly discusses some inherent epistemological weaknesses. In the closing note it is emphasised that the relationships in question present us with a large resource not only for those students who might be at-risk for leaving school early but also for every pupil in school.
Author: Rigos, Markos E.
Publisher:Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). School of Psychology
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Type of material:thesis
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