What is in a student-faculty relationship? A template analysis of students’ positive and negative critical incidents with faculty and staff in higher education

Ingrid Snijders*, Lisette Wijnia, Hans J. J. Dekker, Remy M. J. P. Rikers, Sofie M. M. Loyens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Supportive relationships between students and their educational faculty and staff can foster positive outcomes such as students’ involvement and development. However, research investigating how students perceive the quality of their relationships with educational faculty/staff (i.e., relationship quality) so far remains scarce. This study’s aim was to gain more insight into the construct of relationship quality in higher education using a qualitative approach. Students’ descriptions of their positive (n = 294) and negative relationship experiences (n = 395) were collected using a critical incident technique (final sample N = 513 critical incidents) followed by a template analysis with a priori themes (i.e., relationship quality dimensions: trust in honesty, trust in benevolence, satisfaction, affective commitment, affective conflict). Results indicated that students most often mentioned trust in honesty and trust in benevolence. Affective conflict was not always explicitly mentioned in negative experiences, nor satisfaction in positive experiences. Descriptions of trust in benevolence (n = 355) were equally distributed over positive and negative incidents. However, trust in honesty was more often referred to in negative (n = 145) than in positive incidents (n = 51). The results indicated that students considered timely response to assignments and emails important, and teachers showing interest and attention. The study’s findings provide a new view of how students might
positively and negatively perceive the quality of their relationship with educational faculty and staff. This study adds to the theoretical and practical implications of relationship quality research in higher education and how relational aspects are important for students.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychology of Education
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 May 2021

Keywords

  • Student-faculty
  • staff relationships
  • Relationship quality
  • Higher education
  • Template analysis
  • Critical incident technique
  • RELATIONSHIP QUALITY
  • ACADEMIC MOTIVATION
  • CONFLICT
  • ACHIEVEMENT
  • LOYALTY
  • GROWTH

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