CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING AND NURTURING A CARING TEACHER-STUDENT RELATIONSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Osijek (CROATIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:A caring teacher-student relationship is characterized by mutual trust, attention, respect and the teacher's response to the needs, interests, and affinities of students. The value and importance of this type of relationship between students and teachers in higher education have been increasingly explored in the last decade. Therefore, it has become clear that caring relationships between students and higher education teachers contribute to the students' successful adjustment to academic life, their self-confidence, openness, motivation, commitment, and ultimately, academic success. However, such a relationship is very challenging and is not easily built because it is a dynamic, complex, and sensitive process that gradually develops. The main objective of this literature review is to summarize and synthesise challenges higher education teachers face when developing this kind of relationship with their students. Results show that those challenges can be categorized in three main topics: challenges of personal nature, challenges of social nature, and of contextual nature. Challenges of personal nature are related mainly to the teacher's personality and characteristics, competences and beliefs about teaching. Those of social nature emerge from relationships with students, e.g. from dissonance of the teachers' expectations and reality regarding student engagement and cooperation, student non-compliance with the agreed boundaries of the relationship or their misinterpretation of the teachers' actions. Challenges emerging from the context range from micro-level to macro-level. They arise from the teachers' personal environment (e.g. the quality of family support), but also from institutional environment (e.g. institutional policies, expectations, appreciating and rewarding research work over quality teaching). Lastly, challenges also arise from cultural context, e.g. neglecting the nurturing role of teachers in the academic world or seeing a caring relationship as “women's work”. Raising awareness of the challenges that higher education teachers face in developing caring relationships with students and reflection on those challenges is of utmost importance for understanding their dynamics and complexity.
Keywords: caring, challenges, relational pedagogy, teacher-student relationship, university.