How do teacher-student interactions affect emotions and behaviors? (Best Evidence in Brief)

Another kind of study in the latest Best Evidence in Brief:

A study published in PLOS ONE examined how classroom environment shapes the emotions and behaviors of students. Using a sample of Chinese students, JianaWang and colleagues examined the association between classroom environment and emotional and behavioral problems across different school stages, while also considering the influences of students’ personality and family environment.
In two primary schools and four secondary schools in Liaoning Province, northeast China, the study collected responses from 5,433 students (2,039 from primary schools; 2,091 from middle schools; 1,303 from high schools) and 244 classroom teachers (92 from primary schools; 96 from middle schools; 56 from high schools). The students were asked about their emotional and behavioral problems, personality, family environment, and perceptions of teacher-student interaction through a questionnaire, and the teachers reported their depressive symptoms. According to the results:
  • Although personality and family characteristics exerted the greatest influence on adolescents’ emotions and behavior at the individual-level, interactions between classroom teachers and students increasingly affected adolescents with respect to age at the class-level.
  • A mild positive association was found between adolescents’ mental health problems and the mental health of teachers
The authors suggest that the results highlight the importance of teachers’ positive communication with students. The findings also highlight the diverse classroom needs of younger and older adolescents in order to improve students’ mental health.

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