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Teachers' Relatedness With Students: An Underemphasized Component of Teachers' Basic Psychological Needs

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
DatePublished - Feb 2012
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)150-165
Original languageEnglish


Using a self-determination theory (SDT) framework, we explored the relationship between the satisfaction of teachers' basic psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence and their self-reported levels of teaching-related engagement, emotions, and emotional exhaustion. In particular, we tested a 2-component model of teachers' need for relatedness, with representation of the need for relatedness with students and the need for relatedness with colleagues. One thousand and forty-nine teachers participated in 3 studies. In Study 1 (n = 409), we tested a model that examined how perceptions of autonomy support are associated with teachers' relatedness with colleagues and students and how relatedness subsequently predicts teaching engagement and emotional exhaustion. In Study 2 (n = 455), we tested a full SDT model, hypothesizing that perceptions of autonomy support lead to satisfaction of teachers' needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness with colleagues and students, which in turn lead to teachers' engagement and expression of emotions (anxiety, anger, and enjoyment). In Study 3 (n = 185), we used scenarios to test participants' beliefs about 2 hypothesized teachers, 1 with high student and low peer relatedness and the other with low student and high peer relatedness. Results from the 3 studies consistently emphasize the finding that for teachers, satisfaction of the need for relatedness with students leads to higher levels of engagement and positive emotions, and lower levels of negative emotions, than does satisfaction of the need for relatedness with peers.

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