Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 12-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Tak Cheung Chan

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Chandler

Third Advisor

Dr. Joya Carter Hicks


The teacher-student relationship, which sociologists believe to be the driving force of change in student learning experiences, has largely been overlooked and underdeveloped. As Noddings (2003) explained, in teacher-caring behavior, the carer must take on a dual perspective and see the world not only through the lens of the carer but also through the lens of the one being cared for.

In this study, a mixed-method approach was used to investigate what high school teachers and students perceive to be caring-teacher behaviors. The purpose was to gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the development of caring teacher-student relationships. Results from the 22-item Likert-type survey and the two open-ended questions were grouped into four main themes: Classroom Management, Academic Support, Interpersonal Relationships, and Sense of Respect and Trust.

A significant difference was found between what teachers and students perceived to be caring-teacher behaviors. Although both teachers and students rated behaviors in the Interpersonal Relationship theme as important, teachers rated them the most important over all other themes. Students, however, rated behaviors in the Academic Support theme as the most important when describing caring teachers. Although teachers went over and beyond to help students succeed because they felt that this was their call of duty, students saw them as caring behaviors.