Research in psychotherapy has demonstrated that a positive working alliance between therapist and client leads to positive treatment outcomes. Though its focus is in the area of psychotherapy, the concept of working alliance holds significant value to the area of education. Current applications of the theory in educational settings have looked at relationships between teacher and students in the broad context of classroom interaction and found significant promise. The present study investigates the application of the theory of working alliance in a sample of older reading disabled children. The study examined the psychometric properties of the Reading Alliance Scale for Children (RASC) and for Teachers (RAST) in relation to student reading ability and motivation. A sample of 254 (66.1 % male, 33.9% female) grade 6-8 students (mean age 12.7 years) were enrolled in a remedial reading program for reading disabled children. The average standard score across multiple reading measures was more than 1 SD below age-level expectations. Students responded to measures of reading achievement and motivation at pretest,
after 70 hours (post 70) of remediation and at the end of the program (post 125). All participants completed measures on the working alliance relationship at post 70 and post 125. Results showed that teacher reports were most predictive of outcome compared to student reports of the working alliance relationship. Working alliance was correlated with posttest reading ability and motivation. Male students and Black students obtained the weakest working alliance reports from their teacher. Overall, findings support the view that students' relationships with teachers provide an important component of success in the classroom.
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