Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Student Perceptions of Teacher Support: Effect on Student Achievement

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patrick Pauken


The primary purpose of this study was to add empirical validity to Starratt’s (2004) model of the ethics of responsibility, authenticity, and presence. This qualitative study, through a collective case study methodology, sought to operationalize Starratt’s model by seeking the actual presence of this model in the interactions and support among three teachers and six students in one northwest Ohio high school. Of particular interest is the effect the application of these ethics has on student perceptions of teacher support, student engagement, and student academic performance. More specifically, the purpose of this study was to explore student perceptions of teacher support among lower performing students and higher performing students and teachers’ perceptions of providing support to their students. Important questions that must be answered are whether high-performing students differ from low-performing students in their perceptions of teacher support and how teacher perceptions of delivering support to their students compare to student perceptions of teacher support. A synthesis of the data identified five common components of teacher support. Both high-performing and low-performing students identified supportive teachers as those teachers who (1) provide additional help outside normal classroom hours, (2) maintain high behavioral and academic standards, (3) provide relevant lessons tied to real world applications, (4) get involved in students’ personal lives, especially when personal issues jeopardize academic achievement or overall well being, and (5) present lessons that are designed to take into account individual learning styles or unique circumstances. Taken in the context of their inter-dependent relationship with the ethics of responsibility, authenticity, and presence, a clear paradigm emerged that provides meaningful support for students and, ultimately, enhanced student academic performance. Three high school teachers from one northwest Ohio school were selected on a non-random, purposive basis. Two students were selected on a stratified-random basis from each teacher’s classroom for a total of six student participants. The first grouping consisted of those students with a grade point average of 3.0 or above; the second grouping consisted of students with grade point averages of 2.0 or below. All averages were based on a 4.0 scale. One student was drawn, at random, from each grouping for each teacher—totaling two students per teacher. This study explored the interactions between teachers and students within the classroom with particular attention given to the strategies utilized by teachers to engage, support, and encourage their students in a learning environment consistent with Starratt’s (2004) model of the ethics of responsibility, authenticity, and presence. Similar attention was given to the students with respect to their perceptions of support provided by their teachers. The study is significant in its exploration of the necessary, mutual, and meaningful connections made between teachers and students in an era of district and educator accountability and high numbers of students at risk of failure and dropout.