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Liking or Disliking the Teacher: Student Motivation, Engagement and Achievement

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The current study combines multiple lines of research on student/teacher relationships, to identify characteristics of liked teachers and examine the impact of liking or disliking the teacher on student learning and motivation. The study compared motivation data related to liked and disliked teachers from 125 students. Participants completed two versions of a motivation survey assessing their goals, perceived ability, effort and persistence. The findings suggest that when students like a teacher they experience motivational and achievement benefits.
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Liking or Disliking the Teacher: Student
Motivation, Engagement and
Achievement
Gregory P. Montalvo and Eric A. Mansfield
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL, USA
Raymond B. Miller
The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA
The current study combines multiple lines of research on student/teacher relation-
ships, to identify characteristics of liked teachers and examine the impact of liking or
disliking the teacher on student learning and motivation. The study compared
motivation data related to liked and disliked teachers from 125 students. Participants
completed two versions of a motivation survey assessing their goals, perceived
ability, effort and persistence. The findings suggest that when students like a teacher
they experience motivational and achievement benefits.
doi: 10.2167/eri406.0
Keywords: studentteacher relationships, student achievement, motivation
There is little doubt that teachers influence student motivation and achieve-
ment. After all, teachers define the tasks that students must complete, provide
feedback and define at least some of the consequences for completing tasks.
One question often asked is why do some students put forth more effort and
persist on academic tasks for one teacher, but not for another? Con-
temporary theories of motivation suggest that the varying levels of effort
and persistence observed in different classes and subsequent achievement are,
in part, due to internal purposes students have for doing academic activities
(goals), and their perceived ability (Maehr, 1984; Pajares, 1996; Urdan & Maehr,
1995). The current study is concerned with the potential effect teachers have on
students’ goals, perceived ability, and subsequent effort and persistence in
different classes. More specifically, the study examines how liking or disliking
the teacher is related to student motivation and performance in school.
Recent qualitative research indicates that high school aged children
differentiate between various teachers based on teacher characteristics that
benefit the student (Montalvo, 1995; Montalvo & Roedel, 1995; Phelan et al.,
1992). Phelan and her colleagues (1992) studied 54 high school students for
over a year to identify factors that affect students’ engagement with school and
learning. In the study, students often expressed the importance of having a
caring and approachable teacher who provides written feedback, one-on-one
assistance and who is interested in students’ lives outside of school. Phelan
and her colleagues note that caring teachers are in a better position than non-
caring teachers to maintain student interest and cooperation in school, and
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EVALUATION AND RESEARCH IN EDUCATION Vol. 20, No. 3, 2007
144
that a student’s perception of the teacher as caring or uncaring influences their
level of engagement in school and their persistence in seeking help.
In similar research, Montalvo and Roedel (1995) and Montalvo (1995)
conducted a series of focus groups and interviews with high school students to
understand the concept ‘pleasing the teacher’. As part of the study, they
investigated what teachers do that lead students to want to please them and
how students’ pleasing behaviour changes for different teachers. The findings
indicated that many students try to please their teachers and use a variety of
methods in their attempts to please. Montalvo and Roedel found that teachers
whom students wanted to please were reported to have: (1) gone out of their
way to help, (2) provided positive, confidence-building feedback, (3) done
unnecessary things to be nice, (4) respected and trusted students and
(5) spaced the workload so that students did not feel overwhelmed. The
researchers also found that high school students indicate that peers behaved
similarly for teachers they like and teachers they dislike, but that effort
and quality of work changed. When students like the teacher their effort and
quality of work improves. In contrast, when they dislike the teacher their effort
and quality of work lessens.
One limitation of the above-mentioned studies is the treatment of academic
achievement. The work by Phelan et al. (1992), as well as the work by
Montalvo and Roedel (1995), fails to address a relationship between liking the
teacher and academic achievement. At best, the studies’ findings suggest that
the quality of work for high and low achieving students is different when the
student perceives the teacher to be caring (Phelan et al., 1992). However, quality
of work is not clearly defined in either study. Furthermore, the studies do not
address the relationship between achievement and liking or disliking the
teacher. The current study seeks to extend the previous qualitative findings
through a quantitative examination of liking or disliking the teacher and its
relationship between student effort, persistence and achievement. If previous
research is correct, we expect that students’ self-reported levels of effort and
persistence will be higher for liked teachers as compared to disliked teachers.
In turn, students’ academic achievement will be higher for teachers that
students like as compared to teachers they dislike.
Classroom Goals and Student Confidence
In addition to extending the qualitative findings of previous research
regarding students’ effort, persistence and achievement, the current study
examines the potential differences in students’ motivational goals and
confidence for teachers they like or dislike. In recent years, a number of
motivation theorists have suggested that teachers can improve student
achievement by creating environments that support learning, with an
emphasis on helping students to develop learning goals as opposed to
performance goals (Ames, 1992; Maehr & Midgley, 1991; Newman, 2002).
This idea stems from past research, which outlines the effects of learning and
performance goals (Ames & Archer, 1988; Dweck, 1986; Dweck & Leggett,
1988). When students adopt a learning goal-orientation, they focus on
acquiring new knowledge and skills or trying to understand something new.
Student Motivation and Engagement
145
These students use adaptive learning strategies, seek help when needed,
persist when a task becomes difficult, and believe their efforts will assist their
learning. In contrast, when students adopt a performance goal-orientation,
they are concerned with gaining favourable judgements of their competence
or avoiding unfavourable judgements. Each task is viewed as a test of
their capabilities, thus creating an opportunity to fail. Those students who
encounter repeated failure eventually develop learned helplessness. To protect
a sense of self-esteem or self-worth (Covington, 1992), students often employ
surface learning strategies (guessing, memorising and rehearsing information)
and put forth minimal effort.
Classroom environments that emphasise learning goals encourage students
to master individual tasks, reinforce the idea that making errors is a normal
part of the learning process and support students’ learning and confidence.
Similarly, the research on liked teachers shows them to be encouraging of
students and supportive of student learning by providing confidence-building
feedback (Montalvo, 1995; Montalvo & Roedel, 1995; Phelan et al., 1992). These
findings suggest that liked teachers create an atmosphere more consistent with
a learning-oriented environment, one in which learning goals and confidence
are supported by the teacher. Thus, we hypothesise that students will report
higher levels of learning goals and perceived ability in classes taught by a
teacher they like, and lower levels of learning goals and perceived ability in
classes taught by teachers they dislike.
Yet another body of research suggests that student engagement (e.g. effort
and persistence) in school learning tasks is related to perceived instrumental-
ity. Perceived instrumentality may be defined as students’ perceptions of a
school task as being instrumental to attaining personally valued future goals
(Miller & Brickman, 2004). Several studies indicate that perceived instrumen-
tality scores have a moderate positive correlation with students’ learning goal
scores (Brickman & Miller, 2001; DeBacker & Nelson, 1999; Greene et al., 1999;
Miller et al., 1996); effort and persistence (Brickman & Miller, 1998, 2001;
DeBacker & Nelson, 1999; DeVolder & Lens, 1982; Greene et al., 1999); and
achievement/grades (Brickman & Miller, 1998, 2001; DeBacker & Nelson, 1999;
DeVolder & Lens, 1982; Greene et al., 1999; Miller et al., 1996; Raynor, 1970;
Schutz, 1997; Schutz & Lanehart, 1994).
Research by Greene et al. (2004) tested a causal model in which three
teacher-related variables, perceptions of classroom tasks as meaningful and
motivating, perceptions of classrooms being autonomy supportive and
perceptions of evaluation being mastery-oriented, were hypothesised to be
causally related to students’ perceptions of their course work being instru-
mental to their future goals. The path analysis revealed that student
perceptions that the teacher used meaningful and motivating tasks had a
significant direct effect on their perceptions of course instrumentality, while
both perceived autonomy support and mastery-oriented evaluations had
indirect influences through their impact on student self-efficacy. Thus, in the
present study we examined whether students’ perceptions of the instrumen-
tality of their schoolwork for attaining their personally valued future goals
were related to their reports of liking or disliking their teachers. We expect that
liked teachers create a condition similar to those found in Greene et al. (2004),
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Evaluation and Research in Education
thus students’ perceived instrumentality scores should be higher in classes
where they like the teacher.
Method
Participants
One hundred and seventy-two students from a public school district in the
south central USA participated in the study. The school was one of three high
schools (Grades 1012) which primarily served middle-income families for a
population of about 92,000. Of the 172 participants, 47 were dropped from the
study. Thirty-six did not complete both surveys or did not follow instructions,
three used fake names and eight were identified as multivariate outliers
during data screening (Mahalanobis Distance73.40, pB0.001). The remain-
ing 125 participants included 39 in Grade 10, 58 in Grade 11 and 28 in Grade
12. There were 55 males and 70 females. The ethnic makeup consisted of
61 Caucasians, 27 African Americans, 12 Hispanics, 8 Native Americans and
8 Asian Americans. Six students indicated they were from backgrounds not
listed on the survey. The mean GPA for the sample was 3.2 on a five-point
scale.
Procedures
Data collection occurred three weeks before the end of the fall semester to
allow students time to become acclimated to their classroom environments.
Those who returned signed parent consent forms and completed informed
consent forms participated in the study. Recognising the ethical concerns in
creating an experiment in which some students were assigned to a warm,
caring, supportive, approachable teacher and other students to a non-caring,
non-supportive, unapproachable teacher, participants were asked to reflect on
current teachers to whom they were already assigned. This was accomplished
by administering two versions of The Survey on High School Student Motivation.
The instructions on one version asked participants to think of a current teacher
they liked a lot who teaches an academic subject, and to complete the
instrument as it relates to that teacher and the class he/she teaches. The
instructions on the other survey asked participants to think of a current
teacher they disliked a lot who teaches an academic subject, and complete the
survey as it relates to that teacher and the class he/she teaches. To maintain
teacher anonymity, participants were asked for only the titles of the classes
taught by each teacher so that semester grades could be matched to individual
surveys. To control for order of presentation effects, the instruments were
counterbalanced so that half of the participants completed the ‘liking the
teacher survey’ first, while the other half completed the ‘disliking the teacher
survey’ first. In addition, the teachers were allowed to remain in the classroom
while students completed the two surveys. Two months after the surveys were
administered semester grades were collected.
Measures
Two versions of The Survey on High School Student Motivation were
developed to explore the construct ‘pleasing the teacher in classes where
Student Motivation and Engagement
147
students like and dislike the teacher. The instruments were identical and
differed only in the instructions, which directed participants to complete the
surveys as they related to liked and disliked teachers. The instrument included
subscales for learning goals, performance goals, perceived instrumentality
(college admissions and school recognition goals), as well as measures of
perceived ability, effort, persistence and prior interest. The learning and
performance goal items, as well as the perceived ability, persistence and effort
items were adapted from The Attitude Toward Mathematics Survey (Greene &
Miller, 1996). The perceived instrumentality items were adapted from a survey
used by Miller et al. (1995) to examine future consequences for college and
receiving school recognition. A five-point Likert-type format anchored with
‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’ was used for all items except effort. The
effort item, which asked students to rate their typical amount of effort for this
teacher as compared to classes taught by other teachers, was anchored with
‘Extremely High’ and ‘Extremely Low’ (all of the items used in the two
versions of The Survey on High School Student Motivation are found in the
Appendix).
Achievement was measured using students’ semester grades for the classes
they identified in the two surveys. Their teachers reported grades from ‘F’ to
‘A’. Working with the reported information, the students’ grades were
coded with ‘F’1, ‘D’2, ‘C’3, ‘C4, ‘B’5, ‘B 6, ‘A7 and
‘A8.
Results
The research on student motivation cited in the literature review used
qualitative and quantitative methods with the quantitative research applying
correlational designs. The current study, being comparative by design,
examines students’ beliefs related to liking or disliking the teacher and uses
two lengthy surveys. Because of this, it was necessary to reduce the number of
items used in measuring the motivational goal variables. As a consequence of
reducing the number of items, it was first necessary to perform a confirmatory
factor analysis to provide validity evidence for the goal structures. The
confirmatory factor analysis for the liking and disliking responses are reported
first, followed by subscale reliabilities, descriptive statistics and finally a
comparison of means for the two sets of responses.
Motivation subscales
The instruments included scales to measure students’ effort, persistence,
goals (learning and performance goals), perceived instrumentality (college
admissions and school recognition) and perceived ability.
Confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to test the factor validity of
the four goal subscales on The Survey on High Student Motivation. Fourteen
items were used to measure four goal factors (F1Learning goal; F2
Performance goals; F3Perceived instrumentality for college admissions;
and F4Perceived instrumentality for school recognition). Results from a
pilot study (Montalvo, 1997) and work by Miller et al. (1995) were used to
establish initial model specifications. The top section of Table 1 shows the pilot
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Evaluation and Research in Education
study subscale intercorrelations for the learning and performance goals on the
liking and disliking versions of the instrument. The bottom section of Table 1
shows the intercorrelations related to college admission and school recognition
reported by Miller et al. (1995). Pairs of variables with significant Pearson
product moment correlations were allowed to covary in the initial model
specification. Values were not entered for the relationship between perceived
instrumentality for college and school recognition. This information was not
reported by Miller and his colleagues (1995), therefore the covariance for these
two subscales were set to zero for initial model tests.
Models for both the liking and disliking instruments shared the following
specifications across four factors: (1) four items for learning goals, (2) four
items for performance goals, (3) three items for college admissions and
(4) three items for school recognition. The two models differed only with
regard to learning and performance goals. Findings from the pilot study
(Montalvo, 1997), which was conducted to assist with model specification,
indicate that learning and performance goals only have a significant correla-
tion when students dislike the teacher. For this reason, learning and
performance goals were set to covary in the model specifications for the
disliking survey data. Because the pilot study findings indicated a nonsigni-
ficant correlation between learning and performance goals in the liking survey
data, the covariance for them was set to zero in model specifications.
The two confirmatory factor analyses were conducted using a maximum
likelihood method in Amos. In anticipation that two models might emerge
from the different data sets, the following procedures were used: (1) Analyse
both data sets, examining their goodness of fit summaries; (2) If both tests
produced a x
2
degrees of freedom ratio (2/df) less than 2.0 and a comparative
fit index (CFI) greater than 0.90, then the models would be considered
acceptable; (3) If one or both of the models did not meet the above criteria, the
Modification Indexes (MI) would be examined to identify modifications that
could be made to improve both models; (4) If no common modifications were
apparent, then both MI would be examined for logical modifications that
could be made to both models to produce adequate model fits.
Table 1 Subscale intercorrelations used for model specification
Subscales
Liking/disliking
123 4
1. Learning
2. Performance** 0.36*/0.18
3. Perceived Instrumentality
Admission to College
0.24* 0.20*
4. Perceived Instrumentality
School Recognition
0.24* 0.41* Unknown
Number on left: Correlation from Pilot Study (Montalvo, 1997) (N 55, *pB0.05). Number on
right: Correlation from Miller et al. (1995) (N153, *pB0.01)
Student Motivation and Engagement
149
Confirmatory factor analyses
The initial test results showed a poor model fit for both data sets (Liking:
2/df2.04, CFI0.913; Disliking: 2/df2.15, CFI0.898). An examination
of the modification indexes revealed possible dual loadings for two items. Item
3 of the Perceived Instrumentality for School Recognition subscale showed a
dual loading with Perceived Instrumentality for College. Performance Goal
Item 3 dual loaded with Perceived Instrumentality for School Recognition.
Both items were dropped from the final models. These modifications yielded
adequate model fit for both the liking (2/df1.90, CFI0.938) and disliking
(2/df1.92, CFI0.935) models. The chi-square tests of independence were
significant (Liking:
2
(66)797.9, pB0.001; Disliking:
2
(66)765.9, pB0.001).
The chi-square tests for the final models compared to the independence
models were also significant (Liking:
2
(50)95.2, N125, pB0.001; Disliking:
2
(49)94.1, N125, pB0.001). As a final assessment of model verification, the
standardised residual covariances and item factor loadings were examined.
Both were acceptable. The residual covariances were all below 2.19. The final
factor loadings were all above 0.64 (see Tables 2 and 3). Together, all tests
indicated adequate model fit for both the liking and disliking data.
Table 2 Standardised factor loadings for goals on the disliking survey
Item
Factor loadings
F1 F2 F3 F4
I like to understand the material I study. 0.64
I like to understand complicated ideas. 0.83
I like learning interesting things. 0.76
I like to solve challenging problems. 0.86
I don’t want other students to think I’m not smart. 0.64
I don’t want to be the only one who cannot do the
work well.
0.76
I would be embarrassed if I could not do the work. 0.75
Good grades are important for college admissions
or scholarships.
0.89
Doing well is necessary for admissions to college. 0.88
Getting into college is important to me. 0.82
If I do well I get praise or rewards from people at
school.
0.66
I get some reward or recognition from others at
school for doing well.
0.87
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Evaluation and Research in Education
Subscale reliabilities and descriptive statistics
Internal consistency reliability coefficients were computed for the four goal
variables, perceived ability and persistence. Cronbach alpha coefficients
ranged from 0.74 to 0.90 for the subscales in the disliking data, and 0.74 to
0.88 for the subscales in the liking data. The subscale means, standard
deviations and reliability coefficients are listed in Table 4.
Correlations
To hold alpha at the 0.05 significance level for the collection of correlations
for each data set, significance was set at p0.001 using a Bonferroni
adjustment (0.05/36). The correlation matrixes for the liking and disliking
data sets revealed relatively similar patterns. The correlation matrixes for each
data set are shown in Tables 5 and 6. As expected, learning goals and
performance goals were not significantly related in the two data sets. The
tables also show significant positive relationships among learning goals,
perceived ability and persistence. These were also expected.
Unexpectedly, the significant positive relationship between perceived
ability and effort found in previous research (Miller et al., 1996) was
only found in the disliking data, r (125)36, pB0.001. Similarly, only in
the disliking data were significant relationships observed with regard to
Table 3 Standardised factor loadings for goals on the liking survey
Item
Factor loadings
F1 F2 F3 F4
I like to understand the material I study. 0.79
I like to understand complicated ideas. 0.76
I like learning interesting things. 0.82
I like to solve challenging problems. 0.77
I don’t want other students to think I’m not smart. 0.72
I don’t want to be the only one who cannot do the
work well.
0.67
I would be embarrassed if I could not do the work. 0.70
Good grades are important for college admissions or
scholarships.
0.86
Doing well is necessary for admissions to college. 0.92
Getting into college is important to me. 0.80
If I do well I get praise or rewards from people at
school.
0.85
I get some reward or recognition from others at
school for doing well.
0.83
Student Motivation and Engagement
151
semester grades. The disliking data produced a positive relationship
between perceived ability and semester grades, r (125)0.28, pB0.001; and
a positive relationship between effort and semester grades, r (125)0.28,
pB0.001.
Table 4 Means, standard deviations and alpha coefficients for motivation variables,
effort, persistence and achievement
Disliking Liking
Subscale Means sd a Means sd a t-value h
2
Learning 3.25 0.99 0.85 3.86 0.84 0.86 -7.24* 0.29
Performance 2.76 0.98 0.76 2.76 1.02 0.74 -0.001
Perceived Instr.
College
4.32 0.83 0.91 4.54 0.66 0.89 -3.72* 0.10
Perceived Instr.
School
2.12 0.88 0.73 2.44 0.97 0.83 -3.37* 0.08
Perceived ability 3.07 1.05 0.86 3.92 0.71 0.84 -8.03* 0.34
Persistence 3.19 1.00 0.82 3.83 0.81 0.77 -7.14* 0.29
Effort 3.24 1.22 4.15 0.80 -6.38* 0.24
Prior interest 3.17 1.85 3.67 0.99 -3.85* 0.10
Achievement
(semester grades)
4.27 2.04 5.64 2.12 -9.74* 0.43
*pB0.005 for multiple t-tests
Table 5 Subscale correlations of motivation variables, effort, persistence, prior-interest
and achievement-disliking data
Subscale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Learning goal
Performance goal 0.27
Perceived Instr.
College
0.32* 0.25
Perceived Instr.
School
0.33* 0.30* 0.06
Perceived ability 0.50* 0.09 0.27 0.24
Effort 0.36* 0.29* 0.22 0.15 0.36*
Persistence 0.69* 0.24 0.25 0.19 0.40* 0.42*
Prior interest 0.37* 0.08 0.15 0.03 0.20 0.13 0.28*
Achievement
(semester grades)
0.17 0.07 0.20 0.07 0.28* 0.28* 0.21 -0.05
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Evaluation and Research in Education
Mean differences: Liking and disliking the teacher
A within-subjects multivariate analysis of variance was used to examine
differences among variables within the liking and disliking the teacher data
sets. Specifically, the test compared students’ grades, reported levels of effort,
persistence and perceived ability, as well as their learning goal scores,
performance goal scores, perceived instrumentality scores, and prior interest.
The overall test of differences between variables in the liking and disliking
data sets was significant, F(9,116)15.96, pB0.001.
Univariate dependent t-tests were next examined to further identify the
significant differences between the liking and disliking data. Significant
differences were observed in Achievement, t(124) 9.74, pB0.001; Effort,
t(124)6.38, pB0.001; Persistence, t(124)7.14, pB0.001; Learning goals,
t(124)7.24, pB0.001; Perceived ability, t(124)8.03, pB0.001; Perceived
Instrumentality College, t(124) 3.72, pB0.001; Perceived Instrumentality
School Recognition, t(124)3.37, pB0.005; and Prior Interest, t(124)
3.85, pB0.001. The effect sizes for each univariate t-test were measured
using h
2
. The t-test results and effect size values can be found in Table 4.
Discussion
The current study sheds light on the potential impact that different teachers
have on student motivation and achievement. The major supposition is that
teachers who are perceived to be warm, caring and supportive have a positive
effect on students (Montalvo, 1995; Montalvo & Roedel, 1995; Phelan et al.,
1992). While asking students to think about teachers they like and dislike does
not constitute an experimental procedure, we cannot think of any school that
Table 6 Subscale correlations of motivation variables, effort, persistence, prior interest
and achievement-liking data
Subscale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Learning goal
Performance goal 0.18
Perceived Instr.
College
0.45* -0.01
Perceived Instr.
School
0.34* 0.37* 0.13
Perceived ability 0.49* -0.02 0.35* 0.22
Effort 0.34* 0.18 0.27 0.16 0.11
Persistence 0.56* 0.04 0.45* 0.02 0.45* 0.29*
Prior interest 0.52* 0.21 0.25 0.23 0.34* 0.24 0.33*
Achievement
(semester grades)
0.07 -0.03 0.15 0.00 0.21 -0.03 0.08 0.02
Student Motivation and Engagement
153
would allow students to be purposely assigned to a treatment condition
where the teacher displays characteristics of a disliked teacher. Ironically,
every year students are placed in classes where the teachers display disliked
teacher characteristics. We believe asking students to think about teachers
they like and dislike, while a limitation, allows us to examine the types of
questions posed in the current study without creating an artificial setting. This
limitation serves as a reminder of the difficulties faced by educational
researchers.
Findings from the current study supported the proposed research hypoth-
eses regarding effort, persistence, achievement, learning goals, perceived
instrumentality and perceived ability. Previous qualitative research (Montalvo,
1995; Montalvo & Roedel, 1995; Phelan et al., 1992) suggested that
students’ level of effort and persistence will be higher for liked teachers as
compared to disliked teachers. Our findings provide quantitative support for
this relationship. Students reported having higher levels of effort and
persistence in classes in which they liked the teacher. In addition, the current
study provides evidence of the relationship between liking the teacher and
academic achievement not addressed in the Phelan and Montalvo studies. In
the current study, students earned higher grades in classes where they liked
the teacher.
As an extension to previous research on classroom goals (Brickman &
Miller, 1998, 2001; DeBacker & Nelson, 1999; Greene et al., 1999, 2004; Miller &
Brickman, 2004; Miller et al., 1996) we also predicted that students will report
higher levels of learning goals, perceived instrumentality for schoolwork and
perceived ability in classes taught by teachers they like. This too was
supported. When students thought about teachers they liked, they reported
higher levels of learning goals, perceptions of ability, perceptions of school
being instrumental for both obtaining rewards and recognition at school and
for attaining the goal of getting into college, than when they thought about
teachers they disliked.
Findings from the current study suggest that student motivation is different
for liked and disliked teachers. We believe these differences emerge as a result
of the classroom environment created by teachers. Previous research indicates
that liked teachers create a classroom environment that emphasises learning,
promotes mastery and supports students by providing confidence-building
feedback (Montalvo, 1995; Montalvo & Roedel, 1995; Phelan et al., 1992). Based
on the present findings, it appears that such an environment promotes student
interest and cooperation, encourages them to adopt learning goals, see the
value of school to attaining personally valued future goals and to persist when
tasks become difficult; all of which improve student achievement. However,
an alternative explanation for the current findings is that liked teachers
respond better to individual students’ perceived needs, such as the need
for support in learning, thus impacting the student’s perception of the
classroom environment, the goals the student adopts for the class, the
student’s perception of ability and subsequent achievement. One might
also argue that a student’s classroom performance early in the school year
impacts the way a teacher interacts with the student, which in turn influences
the student’s perception of the classroom environment, motivation and
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Evaluation and Research in Education
subsequent achievement. For example, when a student attends to the teacher’s
directions, turns in assignments promptly and appears to put forth effort in
school, the teacher responds favourably to the student.
What seems to be unclear is the causal link between liking the teacher,
student motivation, and achievement. Future research may want to extend this
work by examining models of prediction for liked and disliked teachers. It is
possible that liking or disliking the teacher has differential effects on the ability
of traditional motivation variables to predict student effort, persistence and
achievement. In addition, we encourage researchers to explore the causal role
of liking and disliking the teacher. The present study has shown liking and
disliking to be related to important motivational outcomes and achievement;
however, this was not an experimental design, nor was it a test of a
hypothetical causal model. Future research should attempt to tease out the
causal role of liking and disliking, if any, in the outcomes examined in the
study. Also, research that provides insight into the causal order of liking and
disliking the teacher, and student perceptions of the classroom environment is
needed. Is it the students’ perceptions of the classroom environment that leads
them to like or dislike their teachers, or does their liking or disliking of
teachers influence their perceptions of the classroom environment? Further-
more, research should try to tease out the role of prior interest in liking the
teacher and student motivation. Do students with higher levels of prior
interest in a subject tend to like the teacher, or does prior interest serve as a
precursor to a student liking the teacher? One approach to examining these
questions may be to explore student/teacher relationships from the outset of
the school year to better understand the causal interplay between individual
student behaviour, teacher behaviour, motivation and achievement. Addres-
sing these issues will help provide a foundation enabling educators to plan
pre-service and in-service experiences that will help teachers create better
relationships with students and classroom environments that support student
learning.
Correspondence
Any correspondence should be directed to Gregory P. Montalvo, Western
Illinois University, Horrabin Hall 115, 1 University Circle, Macomb, IL 61455,
USA (gp-montalvo@wiu.edu).
References
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Appendix
Items on
The Survey on High School Student Motivation
Effort
How would you rate your effort for this teacher as compared to your typical
amount of effort for other teachers?
Persistence
When I run into a difficult part of a homework assignment I give up and go
on to the next problem. (reversed scored)
If I have difficulty with part of an assignment, I keep working until I
understand it.
If I have trouble understanding an assignment, I go over it again until I
understand it.
If I have trouble with part of an assignment, I don’t do it. (reverse scored)
Prior Interest
How would you rate your interest in the subject taught by this teacher
before the school year started.
Learning Goal
I do the work assigned in this class because I like to understand the material
I study.
I do the work assigned in this class because I like to understand
complicated ideas.
I do the work assigned in this class because I like learning interesting
things.
I do the work in this class because I like to solve challenging problems.
Performance Goal
I do the work assigned in this class because I don’t want other students to
think I’m not smart.
I do the work assigned in this class because I don’t want to be the only one
who cannot do the work well.
I do the work assigned in this class because I want to look smart to my
friends. (Item removed from analyses after confirmatory factor analysis)
I do the work assigned in this class because I would be embarrassed if I
could not do the work.
Student Motivation and Engagement
157
Perceived Instrumentality*College
I do the work in this class because good grades are important for college
admissions or scholarships.
I do the work assigned in this class because doing well is necessary for
admissions to college.
I do the work assigned in this class because getting into college is important
to me.
Perceived Instrumentality*School
I do the work in this class because if I do well, I get praise or rewards from
people at school.
I do the work assigned in this class because I get some reward or
recognition from others at school for doing well.
I do the work assigned in this class because I receive recognition or honours
at school for earning good grades. (Item removed from analyses after
confirmatory factor analysis)
Perceived Ability
I think I am doing better than other students in this class.
Compared to others in this class, I think I am good at the subject
being taught.
I have a good understanding of the concepts taught in this class.
I am certain I understand the material presented in this class.
158
Evaluation and Research in Education
... Though it could be argued that the interpersonal nature of students' learning experiences should be tangential to their educational outcomes, research has shown that students tend to be more motivated and perform better in academic contexts where they like their instructors compared to when they do not (Montalvo et al., 2007). Similarly, the sense of relatedness that students experience with their instructors has been argued to be a psychological need that satisfies their intrinsic motivation to learn, which is an important element of student success. ...
... Considering the conceptual and empirical overlap between positive affect and experiences of relatedness, we argue that affect for an instructor may serve as an appropriate proxy for relatedness in the classroom. This conclusion may be further warranted in light of arguments that students like teachers who are warm, caring, and supportive (Montalvo et al., 2007). ...
... In the end, the argument being made here is that the sense of relatedness that people experience with others can influence the process of internalization regarding the practices promoted by these individuals (Ryan et al., 1994). If this is the case, then it seems plausible that when students feel a sense of relatedness with their teachers and feel positively toward them, they may experience a greater sense of motivation (Montalvo et al., 2007;Ryan et al., 1994). Because the fulfillment of a person's basic psychological needs drives intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2000), and because a sense of relatedness is a part of an individual's fundamental needs, students' sense of relatedness with their instructors (operationalized as positive affect pertaining to instructors themselves) may be an important predictor of students' intrinsic motivation to learn their course material. ...
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This study was conducted to model how teacher misbehaviors associate with reductions in students’ sustained attention. Participants (N = 423 college students) responded to measures of their perceptions of teacher antagonism, affect for their instructor, intrinsic motivation to learn, and sustained attention throughout the semester. Results of a path analysis indicated that teacher antagonism did not impact students’ sustained attention directly or indirectly through their affect for the instructor or intrinsic motivation (individually, as simple indirect effects). Rather, results from a serial multiple mediator model demonstrated that the effect of teacher antagonism on students’ sustained attention occurred through a reduction in affect for their instructor and, in turn, a reduction in intrinsic motivation to learn. Results are discussed with regard to the potential impact on student learning and best practices in the classroom.
... Examining the relationship between student-teacher personality similarity and teacher liking may be crucial to understand whether students may tend to prefer teachers with whom they share similar personality characteristics, and which personality similarity approach contributes the most to understand students' preferences for their teachers. Moreover, several studies have shown that liking the teacher is linked to positive outcomes such as students' academic achievement (e.g., Montalvo, Mansfield, & Miller, 2008) and social-emotional aspects of their performance like effort, persistence, positive affection, intrinsic motivation for learning, and self-regulation (Eryilmaz, 2015;Montalvo et al., 2008;Raufelder, Scherber, & Wood, 2016). It has also been suggested that liked teachers can have a positive impact on students because they may increase students' intrinsic motivation, promote a better classroom environment, have a better relationship with students, support and encourage learning, and pay more attention to students' individual needs and feelings (Fauth, Decristan, Rieser, Klieme, & Büttner, 2018;Montalvo et al., 2008;Raufelder et al., 2016). ...
... Examining the relationship between student-teacher personality similarity and teacher liking may be crucial to understand whether students may tend to prefer teachers with whom they share similar personality characteristics, and which personality similarity approach contributes the most to understand students' preferences for their teachers. Moreover, several studies have shown that liking the teacher is linked to positive outcomes such as students' academic achievement (e.g., Montalvo, Mansfield, & Miller, 2008) and social-emotional aspects of their performance like effort, persistence, positive affection, intrinsic motivation for learning, and self-regulation (Eryilmaz, 2015;Montalvo et al., 2008;Raufelder, Scherber, & Wood, 2016). It has also been suggested that liked teachers can have a positive impact on students because they may increase students' intrinsic motivation, promote a better classroom environment, have a better relationship with students, support and encourage learning, and pay more attention to students' individual needs and feelings (Fauth, Decristan, Rieser, Klieme, & Büttner, 2018;Montalvo et al., 2008;Raufelder et al., 2016). ...
... Moreover, several studies have shown that liking the teacher is linked to positive outcomes such as students' academic achievement (e.g., Montalvo, Mansfield, & Miller, 2008) and social-emotional aspects of their performance like effort, persistence, positive affection, intrinsic motivation for learning, and self-regulation (Eryilmaz, 2015;Montalvo et al., 2008;Raufelder, Scherber, & Wood, 2016). It has also been suggested that liked teachers can have a positive impact on students because they may increase students' intrinsic motivation, promote a better classroom environment, have a better relationship with students, support and encourage learning, and pay more attention to students' individual needs and feelings (Fauth, Decristan, Rieser, Klieme, & Büttner, 2018;Montalvo et al., 2008;Raufelder et al., 2016). ...
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... The psychosocial environment comprises two main dimensions: (1) factors related to individual school failure and perceived academic stress, and (2) factors related to teacher-student and student-student relationships and the social climate of the educational setting (Gustafsson et al., 2010). Although teacher-student relationships have been identified as a significant predictor for academic achievement and student engagement in K-12 schools (Hamre & Pianta, 2005;Montalvo et al., 2007;Quin, 2017;Ruzek et al., 2016), the impact of such relationships is less frequently and systematically explored in higher education, and often lack a clear theoretical and conceptual framework (Hagenauer & Volet, 2014). ...
... Although several studies from the K-12 context support a link between the quality of the teacher-student relationship and students' emotional, cognitive, and academic engagement and outcomes (Montalvo et al., 2007;Quin, 2017), similar research on teacher-student relationships in higher education is sparser (Hagenauer & Volet, 2014). However, several studies found that students' academic satisfaction measured, i.e., through perceived quality of teaching and supportive relationships with teachers and peers, have a significant impact on students' academic mastery and intentions to drop out from higher education (Ajjawi et al., 2020;Lane et al., 2019;Truta et al., 2018;Wilcox et al., 2005). ...
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This study examined the impact of psychosocial environment and academic emotions on higher education students’ intentions to leave their studies. The data were derived from a survey among students at study programmes for teacher education, early childhood education, and social science education at one higher education institution in Norway (n = 206). The survey comprised items from the Academic Emotions scale (AEC), the Learning Climate Questionnaire (LCQ) and pre-validated scales for Loneliness and Intentions to Leave. In addition, the survey tested out a series of items based on the Emotional Support domain in the Teaching Through Interactions framework (TTI). The study adds to existing research by operationalizing emotional support in higher education learning environments. The findings showed that test emotions and learning-related emotions, perceived loneliness and instructional engagement were significant to explain variance in students’ intentions to discontinue their studies. ANOVA identified significant between-group differences. Older students (>30 years) reported more positive academic emotions and better relations to their teacher than what younger students did, and female students perceived higher levels of instructional engagement than what male students did. Still, the quality of teacher–student relations had no significant impact on students’ intentions to leave.
... Teaching is not all about cheering on others. "When considering that there are instructors who still have an incorrect conception of their job in the classroom, it is implied that the profession is still somewhat confused (Osborne & Dillon, 2010;Mansfield, 2007;Lang, 2006). According to Whitaker (2004), Teachers have the most weight in the classroom. ...
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Interaction is a live construct for the investigation which enhances the corrdination and minimizes the understanding gap. This study was aimed to investigate the teacher-student interaction towards chemistry at the secondary level. This descriptive study tends to the positivistic paradigm. 250 subjects were selected based on a random sampling procedure. The responses were collected through the adapted research tool. Mean, standard deviation, independent t-test, and one-way ANOVA were applied to analyze the data. The results show that IX grade students have better interaction than X grade students; female students have better interaction than the male students towards chemistry; private school students have better interaction than the public school students; success in chemistry is affected by teacher-students interaction. Furthermore, the students with more interaction have more success in chemistry. Present study proposed solutions to unpredictable problems regarding the teacher-student interaction. This study was applied to improve teacher-student interaction towards chemistry at the secondary level. This study is delimited at the secondary level in the Pakistani context only. Further research studies may be conducted with the same construct in primary, elementary, higher secondary, and higher education with varying populations and samples.
... Κατά συνέπεια, τα κίνητρα μάθησης και η εμπιστοσύνη των μαθητών στους εκπαιδευτικούς τους, είναι έννοιες αμφίδρομες. Από έρευνες διαπιστώνεται ότι όταν υπάρχει θετικό κλίμα στην αλληλεπίδραση εκπαιδευτικού-μαθητή, τα κίνητρα για μάθηση του μαθητή αυξάνονται και η προσπάθειά του εντείνεται, καθώς επιζητά την αποδοχή και την επιβράβευση (Montalvo, Mansfield, & Miller, 2007). Τα παραπάνω μπορούν να εξηγήσουν το γιατί οι μαθητές του δημοτικού δείχνουν να εμπιστεύονται και να επικοινωνούν σημαντικά καλύτερα με τους εκπαιδευτικούς τους, σε σχέση με τους μαθητές του γυμνασίου. ...
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Social behaviours in school can influence learning outcome and achievement in children. The present study examines whether children’s views about their relationships with peers and teachers in school relate to their perceptions of academic motivation. Additionally, differences in the above variables between primary and secondary school aged children are explored. More specifically, children’s views about whether their teacher and peers are sources of psychological security in the school context were assessed, particularly those concerning three relationship quality attributes, naming degree of mutual trust/quality of communication and extent of alienation. Children’s perceptions of academic motivation and school attainment were assessed with questions about school engagement and determination to do well in school assignments as well as learning expectations. Three hundred and sixty primary and secondary school aged children (M age = 10.49, SD = 0.50, 51.1% boys) from 4 public schools of the area of Attica, took part in the study. The results have shown that perceived mutual trust/quality of communication in children’s relationships with peers and the teacher is significant predictor of positive academic motivation. Perceived alienation in teacher and peer relationships was found to have significant negative impact on children’s self-reported academic motivation. Learning motivation appears to drop in secondary school children. Moreover, results showed significant differences between primary school pupils and secondary school pupils in perceived communication/trust in pupil-teacher relationship. Younger pupils tend to trust more and communicate better with their teachers than older pupils.
... They acknowledged that they were limited as to their influences on social circles that their students choose, but stressed the importance of being one positive relationship that students could count on. This belief seemed to stem not only from an inherent belief that all people deserve to be treated kindly, but also because the teachers believed that students behave better and put forth more effort in those classes where they like their teachers (see Montalvo et al., 2007;Roorda et al., 2011). ...
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Previous research has suggested that emotional and social developmental domains configure most prominently for adolescents in the classroom. In this qualitative study, we first aimed to explore teachers’ perspectives of students’ needs, then to explore the ways that teachers came to understand those needs, and how that understanding informed their practice of attending to student needs in the classroom. Findings suggest that teachers, also, are more attuned to the emotional domain, interpreting all needs displayed by students through an emotional lens. Additionally, teachers used emotion as an entry point to connect with students and sought to support student development through attending to personal relationships, creating safe learning spaces, and showing care for students. Teachers’ sources of emotional awareness varied through personal histories and experiences in the profession. Implications for teacher preparation programs are discussed, including the need for greater focus to prepare teachers for the emotion needs of their students.
... Some of us, looking back over our higher or tertiary education, can attribute our likes and dislikes of particular topics to one or more lecturers. Indeed, correlational evidence indicates a relationship between academic success and liking a particular lecturer (for example, Montalvo et al., 2007), who may have instilled in us the desire to pursue a particular career path. Most tertiary education organisations invest in a variety of ways to deliver programmes and develop the pedagogical techniques of educators. ...
... This trend is in keeping with other research on children's orientations to teachers and school. Several studies have shown that when children feel positively towards their teachers, they tend to be more successful academically (Baker, 2006), have increased motivation and persistence around academic work (Montalvo, Mansfield, & Miller, 2007;Raufelder, Scherber, & Wood, 2016), and often experience deeper levels of emotional and social engagement with the teacher, peers, and school (Roorda, Koomen, Spilt, & Oort, 2011). ...
Thesis
Because teaching is inherently interpersonal and relational work, teachers use expressive behaviors such as voice, body language, and facial expression as they interact in the classroom. Yet the effects of the expressive dimensions of teachers’ practice on their relationships with children and their instruction are not well-understood in education. This dissertation investigates and conceptualizes this expressive domain in teaching, which it refers to as “creating and using a persona,” or “persona work.” This study draws on classroom observations, teacher interviews, and student focus groups and surveys to explore patterns in teachers’ persona work and unearth its purposes. Specifically, it employs multiple case study analysis to describe the expressive practice of six White, female, experienced and “expert” teachers. It also shows how the 220 students across these teachers’ diverse middle school English language arts and social studies classrooms responded to their persona work. Taken together, findings from this dissertation show that the teachers’ persona work was central to their instruction and relationships with children, and that it had the power to create as well as limit opportunities for children. The teachers in this study used their expressive behaviors to control and shape interactional conditions in the classroom. Their persona work helped teachers engage children and maintain their attention, lent clarity to teachers’ explanations, communicated teachers’ expectations, and otherwise augmented teachers’ instructional and relational goals. However, teachers’ persona work was not always successful, and did not always benefit every child. In particular, especially among children of color, teachers’ persona work could also be inequitable and could communicate a lack of care or intellectual regard. As this study shows, although teachers’ persona work might help some children learn and engage, it can also limit other children’s opportunities in classrooms, especially among students from historically marginalized backgrounds. This study has important ramifications for teaching and teacher education, especially in relation to cross-cultural teaching contexts. Without growing teachers’ abilities to create and use personas in the classroom in ways that are just, equitable, and responsive to all children, the field continues to relegate to chance teachers’ mastery over this ubiquitous, influential, but until now underdeveloped domain of teaching practice. This, in turn, will continue to put young people—and especially children of color—dangerously at risk.
... In addition, Montalvo, Mansfield, & Miller (2007) found that the students' like and dislike for a teacher is not only related to students' academic achievement but also students' motivation. The good teacher is focus on learning in constructing a classroom, providing effective feedback, and stimulating perseverance in challenging work; these characteristics will raise student achievement. ...
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Becoming a caregiver for two elderly parents in a remote rural area with limited internet access while also teaching online increased the author's awareness of students' challenges and interpersonal needs in online educational modalities. She realized how often students' interpersonal needs, as well as teachers' needs, go unmet in the online classroom. Students' messages may be misread when they are reaching out to teachers in attempt to meet their interpersonal needs through the teacher-student relationship. She argues that online teachers would be wise to rely on William Schutz's Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation to inform their interactions with students. Rather than dismissing students' sometimes clumsily sought or expressed needs, responding to their needs as one human being to another creates relationships that retain and strengthen students' resilience. Vulnerability as a teacher and exploration of our shared “humanness” in all roles within higher education leads to a conclusion that calls for more direct interpersonal contact between teachers and students, not less.
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