Making the connection: fostering relationships with disengaged students





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The purpose of this study was to answer the research question: How do currently disconnected students describe the factors that foster or interfere with positive teacher-student relationships? The secondary question included: What do disconnected students report as the reasons for the teacher-student disconnect? The participants in this qualitative study included four juniors from a large, comprehensive high school setting. For the purpose of this inquiry, a case study design was most appropriate. Data collection included surveys, individual student interviews, and analysis of artifacts. A review of all the data collected showed the emergence of five main themes. These themes included the need for survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. In their own words, students described how these five basic needs needed to be met in the high school setting for positive teacher-student relationships to be fostered. The most significant need identified by all four participants included the need for love and belonging. Recommendations and suggestions given for large, comprehensive high schools are based on practices found to be successful in EdVisions schools.

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