School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Tracey Pritchard


Autonomy, Student Achievement, Teacher Beliefs, Teacher Sense of Responsibility


Toward the improvement of interactions between teachers and at-risk students, and academic achievement, this correlation study explored teachers’ attitudes about cultivating teacher-student relationships and the connection to academic gains. Specifically, the current study investigated the relationship among three constructs: teacher support for student autonomy, teacher sense of responsibility for positive teacher-student relationships, and student academic gains among middle school students in a high minority, low socioeconomic middle school district in Georgia. Based on self-determination theory, teacher valuation of fostering teacher-student interactions was operationalized by the Problems in Schools Questionnaire (PIS) and Teacher Responsibility Scale (TRS). Teacher level growth percentile median data from the 2013-2014 Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) administration were used to assess student achievement. Information from the PIS and TRS, administered online to 43 middle school teachers, was paired with teacher growth percentile medians. Pearson and Spearman Rho correlations were run in SPSS v24 to determine relationships between teacher sense of responsibility for teacher-student relationships, their support for student autonomy and performance of their students on the 2013-2014 CRCT. Though no significant association between teachers’ beliefs about teacher-student interactions and student achievement was found, this study found that teachers of at-risk students support student autonomy and indicate a sense of responsibility for fostering positive teacher-student relationships.