Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

William Boozang, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Catherine Gniewek, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Michael Butcher, Ed.D.


The value of relationships in education continues to grow as educational leaders raise awareness for social emotional learning. This phenomenological research study examined teacher perceptions of the connection between student–teacher relationships and student effort with economically disadvantaged students. A brief overview of research involving popular educational leadership styles led to the evaluation of student–teacher relationships’ impact on student effort. Answering the central research question, how do teachers perceive the impact of student–teacher relationships on student effort of economically disadvantaged students, study participants shared their experiences in education that yielded value to relational connections with students. Interpreted through the lens of social constructivism theory and analyzed from data collected from 8 one-to-one interviews, this study produced data from teacher perspectives of relational capacity in the classroom. Additionally, study participants furnished artifacts representing positive connections with students and discussed the relational value their artifact held. The study provided the following: characteristics of student–teacher relationships with economically disadvantaged students, obstacles study participants faced with economically disadvantaged students, effective teacher practices and needed supports with economically disadvantaged students. Educational stakeholders might be able to use the research findings to reflect on relational capacity in schools and make appropriate changes that may increase civility, effort and academic success in schools.

Included in

Education Commons