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Play as a Catalyst for Improved Student-Teacher Relationships and Better Perceptions of School

Emory, Karen Janelle (2021) Play as a Catalyst for Improved Student-Teacher Relationships and Better Perceptions of School. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Positive student-teacher relationships impact many aspects of schooling for students (Fredriksen & Rhodes, 2004) and for teachers (Veldman et al., 2013) including their overall perceptions of school (Mainhard et al., 2018). However, research has shown the quality of student-teacher relationships lessens as students get older (O’Connor, 2010). Additionally, academic pressures have placed limitations on students’ and teachers’ abilities to form positive relationships (Fredriksen & Rhodes, 2004). The current study was designed to determine if unstructured play could be a catalyst for positive student-teacher relationships, thus leading to better perceptions of school. Play leads to social-bonding (Panksepp, 2004) and more positive relationships (Brown & Vaughan, 2010). It is especially important between children and adults, and this is true for a range of adult-child relationships including teachers and students (Ginsburg, 2007). This is because play removes the dominance systems that often occur between children and adults (Gray (2009). In this study, teachers and students in second through sixth grade participated in questionnaires and semi-structured interviews before and after a treatment period. This data was used to measure students’ and teachers’ perceived relationships with each other and their perceptions of schooling. Teachers and students in the treatment group participated in a play-intervention during which they played together at recess. Overall, results of the study indicated there was no significant difference between groups in regards to positive student-teacher relationships and better perceptions of schooling. However, many students who reported playing with their teacher three or more times per week indicated more positive relationships after the treatment period. Additionally, most students in the treatment group who reported better perceptions of school also reported better relationships with their teacher. Future research on the effect play has on student-teacher relationships and perceptions of school is needed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: perceptions of school; student-teacher relationships; unstructured play
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Education > Teaching and Learning
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2022 16:21
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2022 16:21
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5754

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