Student-Teacher Relationships/Rapport in Physical Education: A Perspective from New Zealand Secondary Schools
Student engagement is an essential element in students' learning. An important factor that is increasingly associated with student engagement and learning in schools involves student-teacher relationships. The purpose of this study has been to look at student-teacher relationships in the context of physical education in New Zealand secondary schools. Specifically, it has investigated, from the perspective of students and teachers of physical education, the significance of student-teacher relationships with respect to students' educational outcomes, along with the teacher related factors thought to enhance and/or inhibit such relationships. The research participants were selected from a range of schools in terms of decile (socio-economic) rating, and ethnic and cultural make up. Apart from one integrated single sex school all participants were drawn from state co-educational schools in the wider Wellington region. The participants included physical education teachers from six schools and physical education students from three schools. Research data was gathered by way of focus group interviews. In total, nine focus group interviews were held. Significantly, all participants stated that they believed positive-student-teacher relationships were crucial for students' engagement and learning in physical education. In terms of the factors (teacher behaviours, attitudes, attributes, skills, etc) thought to impact on student-teacher relationships, considerable consistency was found to exist in terms of the broad themes identified by both students and teachers. These included factors such as, being supportive and encouraging, showing care, being fair and respectful, providing a safe learning environment, and the use of humour. However, in terms of the specific aspects (teacher behaviours, attitudes, etc) making up or comprising these broad themes greater variation was found to exist between the nine groups involved in the study.