Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Philip H. Dreyer

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Daryl G. Smith

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2012 Victoria S. Zakrzewski


care, teacher-student relationship

Subject Categories

Education | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Teacher Education and Professional Development


Research indicates that many factors may impede teachers' ability to develop caring relationships with students such as the school environment (Schaps, 2009), lack of cultural understanding (Thompson, 1998), the teacher's beliefs and attitudes about care (Goldstein, 2002), and personal experience of being cared for (Noddings, 1984). Yet, little research exists on how schools can address these and other potential limiting factors in order to help teachers cultivate caring relationships with students. The purpose of this study was to examine how one school in India, which claims to emphasize the importance of the teacher-student relationship, develops and supports teachers' capacities to create caring relationships with students. The hope was that the outcomes might provide insight for policy-makers, school administrators, and teachers about what is needed to best support teachers in their relationships with students.

The research site for this study was a pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade private school in India. The choice of India as a cultural context stemmed from the historical precedence of the importance of the teacher-student relationship. A mixed-methods descriptive case study served as the design for this study. Qualitative methods included interviews of teachers, administrators, and students, classroom and event observations, and document analysis. Quantitative methods included surveys of teachers and students. The qualitative data were analyzed using Noddings' (1984) four methods for teaching care (modeling, dialogue, practice, and confirmation) with other themes added as needed. Descriptive statistics and factor analyses of both surveys were used to triangulate and expand upon the qualitative data.

Findings indicated that schools can support teachers' capacity to care for students through a strong commitment to the teacher-student relationship, deliberate fostering of relationships between students, teachers, and parents, and through the modeling by and direct receipt of care from administrators. Other factors that may help teachers to care for students include cultural respect for the teaching profession and acknowledgement of care from both students and parents. However, teachers' efforts to care may be impeded by intense testing environments. Recommendations were made for the implementation of resources and support needed by teachers to create caring relationships with students.