Volume 38, Issue 1 (2009)
Teacher Support and Adolescents' Subjective Well-Being: A Mixed-Methods Investigation
Shannon M. Suldo, Allison A. Friedrich, Tiffany White, Jennie Farmer, Devon Minch, Jessica Michalowski
Abstract. Adolescents’ subjective well-being (SWB) is associated with a variety of schooling experiences, particularly their perceptions of teacher support. This article presents results of a mixed-methods study conducted to identify which types of perceived social support enacted by teachers are most strongly associated with middle school students’ SWB (quantitative component) as well as student-reported specific teacher actions and/or comments that communicate social support (qualitative component). Four hundred and one students completed self report measures of SWB and social support; 50 students participated in eight focus groups to uncover students’ perceptions of teacher behaviors that communicate support. Findings from a simultaneous regression analysis indicated that perceived teacher support accounted for 16% of the variance in students’ SWB, and that emotional support and instrumental support uniquely predicted SWB. Themes that emerged during focus groups included the following: Students perceive teachers to be supportive primarily when they attempt to connect with students on an emotional level, use diverse and best-practice teaching strategies, acknowledge and boost students’ academic success, demonstrate fairness during interactions with students, and foster a classroom environment in which questions are encouraged. Gender differences emerged in the qualitative stage of the study only.
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