Exploring Adolescent Student Perceptions and Experiences of Educational Care
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Despite the presence of teacher caring intentions, too many students in North American schools do not experience successfully communicated care from their teachers. This study explores adolescent student perceptions and experiences of their teachers’ intended communication of care, seeking to better understand and explain educational care. The results of this study provide insights that could help teachers more successfully communicate their intended care to their students, leading to the development of caring teacher-student relationships. This study is a qualitative research design that used a constructivist grounded theory research methodology (Charmaz, 2006, 2014). The study employed unstructured interviews, working with young adult participants who reflected on their perceptions and experiences of educational care while they were in middle school and high school. The study drew on constructivist grounded theory analysis approaches and processes in order to analyze the data, resulting in important descriptions and explanations. The study generated six primary results, (1) a rearticulation of the problem of care in education as the disconnect between teacher caring intentions and student experiences of educational care; (2) a recognition that the problem of educational care is the failure to differentiate between communicating intended care and completing of successfully communicating care (a process that includes the response of the cared-for); (3) a description of the successful communication of care, which includes three distinct categories or dimensions and a number of related sub-categories, or elements; (4) a grounded theory of the intended communication of educational care; (5) a description of the student’s role in the development of a caring teacher-student relationship; and (6) a theoretical explanation of the development of a caring teacher-student relationship. The results of the study provide important insights into how educational care is successfully communicated and how caring teacher-student relationships can be developed. These results have implications for in-service and pre-service teachers, providing them with knowledge about the nature and communication of educational care. The results also provide guidelines and resources that can help teachers to communicate care more effectively and successfully.