School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Sarah Pannone


teacher education, preservice teachers, teacher-student relationships, stage-environment fit theory, sense of belonging




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to discover the perceptions of preservice teachers who are currently enrolled at universities in six teacher education programs regarding their preparation to build teacher-student relationships. For this research, teacher-student relationship was generally defined as an appropriate emotional connection between a teacher and a student. The theory that guided this study was stage-environment fit theory by Eccles and Midgley (1989), as it supports the need for relationships between teachers and students in the classroom setting to fit the developmental stages of the students. The central question of this study was “How do preservice teachers perceive their readiness to develop positive relationships with their students as developed during their training programs?” The study was also be guided by sub-questions focused on using teacher-student relationships to create learning environments that meet the academic, social, and cultural needs of students. Answers to these questions were sought through a transcendental phenomenological approach. The goal of the research was to find the essences of 12 students enrolled in undergraduate education programs in six different universities. The data were collected using interviews, a written description of a meme created by the participants, and focus groups. The transcripts went through holistic coding, in vivo coding, and themeing in a search for the essence of the readiness to establish relationships with their future students as perceived by these preservice teachers. In general, the 12 preservice teachers perceived themselves as ready to create and nurture relationships with their students as a result of their training programs.

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