Date of Award

Summer July 2014

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Antonia Darder

Second Advisor

Mary K. McCullough

Third Advisor

Jacqueline Elliot


Latino/a students currently have lower graduation and higher dropout rates than their white peers. This population of students also performs lower on state exams. This qualitative study explored teacher-student relationships and their impact on Latino/a student populations. Using Funds of Knowledge and a social justice perspective, the study characterized positive teacherstudent relationships and ways that schools can support their formation. This dissertation study consisted of two rounds of interviews; participants were interviewed individually and then as part of two focus groups. The first phase consisted of one-on-one interviews, where the participants were asked questions on effectiveness, teacher-student relationships, and administrative support. The results from these interviews were analyzed for themes. The themes were then brought to the participants in forms of two focus groups for further exploration and clarity. Findings indicate that teachers characterize six themes in positive teacher-student relationships; student voice, humanization, trust, openness, respect, and personal connections. Three areas of school support were also uncovered; this included community circle, time to connect, and opportunities outside the classroom. The findings support the need for educators to be aware of the elements of positive relationships and to include these areas of school support in teacher and leader preparation programs.

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