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Study: Positive Teacher-Student Relationships Might Be More Effective Than Counseling, Anti-Bullying Programs 

Study Indicates Positive Teacher-Student Relationships Might be More Effective Than Counseling, Anti-Bullying Programs 

If there was any question about how important the role of a teacher in a child’s life is, a new study has substantiated this further with some new evidence.

Members of the Violence Research Centre at Cambridge's Institute of Criminology and colleagues from both ETH Zurich and the University of Toronto arrived at the conclusion that positive relationships with teachers for middle school aged students is likely to reduce aggressive behavior for four years through analysis of nearly a decade’s worth of data.

The researchers analyzed "data from eight 'waves' of a major longitudinal study of culturally-diverse Swiss youth being schooled across Zurich. The latest study involved 1,067 students randomly sampled across 56 of the city's schools,” said the University of Cambridge in a release.

"Researchers found that students with a more positive relationship with their teacher displayed towards peers, on average, 18% more prosocial [behavior] (and 10% more up to two years later), and up to 38% less aggressive [behavior] (and 9% less up to four years later), over students who felt ambivalent or negative toward their teacher,” the release said.

The researchers believe the evidence is so strong that it might even indicate that teacher relationships are more important in intervening with defiant behavior than intervention programs like counseling or “other anti-bullying therapies.”

"Researchers say the latest results suggest that developing similar [programs] for those who teach students in early adolescence has the potential to promote better classroom [behavior] in schools that may otherwise rely more on exclusionary [practices]- such as detentions, or being sent out of class - to manage student [behavior].”

Going forward, the researchers support teacher training programs focusing on how teachers can best build positive student relationships. 

"Ideally, building healthy and supportive teacher-student relationships would become part of the curriculum in teacher training and intervention programmes as a way of improving adolescent well-being," said the study's lead author, Dr Ingrid Obsuth.

To read more about the latest research read here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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