Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Rudasill, Kathy

Author's Keywords

Residential treatment; Child abuse; Trauma-informed care; Student-teacher relationships; Teacher training; Foster care


Teacher-student relationships; Abused children--Education; Teachers of problem children; Child psychotherapy--Residential treatment


Although there is a vast body of literature to support multiple positive outcomes related to positive student-teacher relationships, no prior study has investigated student-teacher relationships within the context of a residential treatment center for abused and neglected adolescents, students who theoretically could benefit from this relationship the most. The first goal of this study was to investigate the effects of student trauma symptomology, teacher beliefs about trauma-informed care, and teachers' emotionally supportive behavior in the classroom on student-teacher relationship quality. Results revealed that teacher beliefs about trauma-informed care and student trauma symptomology, particularly as it is related to 'Other-Control,' are statistically significant predictor variables of student-teacher relationship quality (F7,45 = 3.002, p = .011, R2 =.318, /).R2 = .212). Additionally, teachers in on-campus schools within residential treatment centers are rarely trained to work with the traumatized students in their classrooms. Therefore, the second goal of this study was to examine the effects of a trauma-informed training intervention for teachers called Risking Connection. Changes in teachers' knowledge about the training material, beliefs about trauma-informed care, and their emotionally supportive behavior in the classroom were evaluated before and after the teacher training as well as the subsequent changes in students' reported trauma symptomology and their perceptions of the student-teacher relationship. Results revealed no statistically significant change in teacher scores; however, this was not expected due to the low sample size of teachers (n = 6). Descriptive statistics suggest that if teacher changes occurred initially, they did not sustain. There was no statistically significant difference in the amount of change in students before and after the teacher training; however, a trend of slightly higher student scores was noted at the third data collection time point directly following the teacher training. Overall, the findings indicate that characteristics of both the students and teachers impact the student-teacher relationship in the residential treatment center setting. Specifically, students' trauma symptomology and teachers' beliefs about the effectiveness of trauma-informed care are predictive of student perceptions of their relationship with their teachers. Implications for research, clinical practice, and effective training for teachers of this population are discussed.