Patterns of caring: a study of the perceptions of teachers and students
Linkous, Vicki D.
MetadataShow full item record
There is a long standing and widely held expectation that school is to be a caring place (Goodlad, 1984). This expectation is supported in the philosophies of Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Dewey and in the psychological theories of Maslow and Erickson. Contemporary scholars (Bronfenbrenner, 1986; Martin, 1986: Noddings, 1984) advocate that school not only be a caring place, but that caring be integrated into the curriculum allowing students to care for themselves and others. However, we have little empirical information about how caring is communicated and understood in the classroom. The purpose of this study was to learn about caring in the classroom through the perspectives of teachers and students using a theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969) and qualitative research methods (Erickson, 1986; Goetz & Lecompte, 1984; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Spradley, 1980) to achieve this purpose. Through participant observations, interviews, and document searches, the researcher studied teacher-student relationships in the classrooms of a male seventh grade teacher and a female first grade teacher. The results of the study suggest that teachers not only talk about caring for students, but also are able to communicate caring through a variety of verbal and nonverbal behaviors. In caring teacher-student relationships, the use of humor enhances students' feelings of connectedness with school. Finally, there is evidence that caring is neither easy nor flawless. There is an indication that further research is needed to examine how caring relationships contribute to student learning and affect student and teacher feelings of connectedness and efficacy.
- Doctoral Dissertations