A study has found that having a positive relationship with a teacher when a child is 10 to 11 years old can be linked to “prosocial” behaviors such as cooperation and altruism, as well as a reduction in problem classroom behaviors such as aggression and oppositional behavior.
The study used data from a major longitudinal study of Swiss youth among a culturally diverse sample of 7 to 15 year olds, and involved 1,067 students randomly sampled across 56 of the city’s schools. Only students who experienced a change of teacher when the student was 9 or 10 were used for the study, with data gathered from teachers, students, and their parents on an annual and later biannual basis.
Using this data, Ingrid Obsuth and her team were able to “score” the children on over 100 different characteristics or experiences that could potentially account for good or bad behavior. They then matched students in pairs with similar scores in all respects except for how they felt about their teacher, and how the teacher felt about them. The results showed that:
- Students who had a more positive relationship with their teacher displayed more prosocial behavior toward peers (on average 18%, and 10% more up to two years later) over students who felt ambivalent or negative toward their teacher.
- Also, they were up to 38% less aggressive behavior (and 9% less up to four years later).
Source (Open Access): Obsuth, I., Murray, A. L., Malti, T., Sulger, P., Ribeaud, D., & Eisner, M. (2017). A non-bipartite propensity score analysis of the effects of teacher–student relationships on adolescent problem and prosocial behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(8), 1661–1687.