Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Gary E. Bingham, Ph.D.

Abstract

Despite the importance of positive teacher-child relationships and supportive home environments to children’s academic achievement, research is limited in notable ways. First, studies often utilize only teachers’ perceptions about the relationships they have with children limiting understanding of bidirectional nature of these connections. Second, little is known about how teacher-child relationships and parental support additively influence children’s academic achievement. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to explore associations between teacher-child relationships and children’s academic achievement among preschool-aged children. Both teachers’ and children’s perceptions about teacher-child relationships were examined, and differences were discussed. Additionally, to investigate how parental support and teacher-child relationships are associated with children’s academic outcomes, home learning environment (i.e., the frequency of school-related activities at home) was examined. Participants for this study included 179 preschool aged children, their parents, and teachers (N = 28). Children’s language, literacy, and mathematics skills were assessed directly through standardized assessments, while their perceptions of the teacher-child relationship (i.e., warmth, negativity, encouragement for autonomy) were assessed through an interview. Parents completed questionnaires about family demographics and home learning experiences. Teachers completed a survey about demographic information and perceptions about relationships (e.g., closeness, conflict, dependency) with each child. Structural equation modeling was conducted to examine associations among teacher-child relationships, parental support, and academic outcomes. Findings revealed limited concordance between teachers’ and children’s perception of the quality of the teacher-child relationship, with only teachers’ perceptions of children’s dependency being meaningfully correlated children’s perception of teacher negativity. Both parental support and teacher-child relationships were significant predictors of children’s mathematics and literacy outcomes. Specifically, teachers’ perception of children’s dependency and children’s perception of teacher negativity were negatively associated with children’s academic achievement. Findings from this study provide implications for teachers and parents about how teacher-child relationships and parental support improve children’s academic achievement.

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