Students in high-poverty urban schools may benefit from positive teacher-student relationships even more than students in high-income schools, because of the risks associated with poverty (Murray & Malmgren, 2005).Risk outcomes associated with poverty include high rates of high school dropout, lower rates of college applications, low self-efficacy, and low self-confidence (Murray & Malmgren, 2005).Furthermore, teacher-student relationships have an impact on the academic self-esteem of students (Ryan et al., 1994).High-poverty students often have low academic self-esteem and low confidence in their academic and vocational futures (Wentzel, 2003).Academic Outcomes Although many studies focus on the importance of early teacher-student relationships, some studies have found that teacher-student relationships are important in transition years; the years when students transition from elementary to middle school or middle to high school (Alexander et al., 1997; Cataldi & Kewall Ramani, 2009; Midgley, Feldlaufer, & Eccles, 1989).
Researchers who have investigated teacher-student relationships for older students have found that positive teacher-student relationships are associated with positive academic and social outcomes for high school students (Alexander, Entwisle, & Horset, 1997; Cataldi & Kewall Ramani, 2009).
In addition to positive teacher-student relationships, students’ motivation to learn is another factor that influences social and academic outcomes.
A possible reason for the association between academic improvement and positive teacher-student relationships is students’ motivation and desire to learn (Wentzel, 1998).
Motivation is closely linked to student’s perceptions of teacher expectations.
Studies of middle and high school students have shown that students shape their own educational expectations from their perceptions of their teachers’ expectations (Muller, Katz, & Dance, 1999).