A non-bipartite propensity score analysis of the effects of teacher–student relationships on adolescent problem and prosocial behavior

Ingrid Obsuth, Aja Louise Murray, Tina Malti, Philippe Sulger, Denis Ribeaud, Manuel Eisner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous research suggests a link between the quality of teacher–student relationships and the students’ behavioral outcomes; however, the observational nature of past studies makes it difficult to attribute a causal role to the quality of these relationships. In the current study, therefore, we used a propensity score analysis approach to evaluate whether students who were matched on their propensity to experience a given level of relationship quality but differed on their actual relationship quality diverged on their concurrent and subsequent problem and prosocial behavior. Student/self, teacher, and parent- (only waves 1–3) reported data from 8 waves of the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children and Youths (z-proso), a longitudinal study of Swiss youth among a culturally diverse sample of 7- to 15-year-olds were utilized. The initial sample included 1483 (49.4 % female) students for whom information relevant for this study was available. The sample represented families from around 80 different countries, from across all the continents; with approximately 42 % of the female primary caregivers having been born in Switzerland. Following successful matching, we found that students who reported better relationships with their teachers and whose teachers reported better relationships with them evidenced fewer problem behaviors concurrently and up to 4 years later. There was also evidence for an analogous effect in predicting prosocial behavior. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to prevention and intervention practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1661-1687
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume46
Issue number8
Early online date5 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2017

Keywords

  • teacher–student relationship
  • problem behavior
  • prosocial behavior
  • longitudinal design
  • non-bipartite matching

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