Emotions in the classroom : exploring relationships between students' perceptions of teachers' practices and students' strengths and difficulties : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Despite recognition of the importance of schools as a zone of social-emotional development, there is a gap in knowledge regarding students’ perceptions of teachers’ social-emotional practices and how these perceptions relate to students’ strengths and difficulties. This thesis addresses this gap through three studies. Students’ conceptual understandings of 88 social-emotional practices were examined using Multidimensional Scaling (MDS), creating a three-dimensional map depicting item relationships. Study two used this map as a lens for analysis of survey data collected from 335 students, focussing on both student-perceived teachers’ practices and student variables including psychological flexibility, connectedness, and emotional, social, and behavioural strengths and difficulties. Findings indicated positive correlations between perceptions of social-emotional practices and students’ connectedness, which in turn was associated with fewer social-emotional difficulties. Existing social-emotional strengths of teachers were highlighted; students reported frequently perceiving teachers’ use of social-emotional practices. Importantly, however, these perceptions were not always related to students’ strengths. Study three sought to deepen insights into the findings of study two by investigating potential differences in the relationships between perceived teachers’ practices and students’ strengths and difficulties according to student gender, in recognition of common views that social-emotional variables are affected by student gender. Findings revealed few gender differences in the relationships observed between perceived teachers’ practices and student variables.
Affective education, Social learning, Teacher-student relationships, New Zealand