The Importance of Student–Teacher Relationships Characterized by High Levels of Closeness for Children with Early Externalizing Behaviors and Later Risk-Taking Behaviors

Elizabeth Berke

Advisor: Timothy W Curby, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Susanne Denham, Linda Chrosniak

David J. King Hall, #1029
April 20, 2016, 02:30 PM to 11:30 AM


The purpose of the present study is to investigate whether or not the presence of a student–teacher relationship characterized by high levels of closeness in the elementary school years can disrupt the pathway between early externalizing behaviors and later risk-taking behaviors.  Research has indicated that student–teacher relationships characterized by levels of closeness can ameliorate the effects of externalizing behavior on later negative outcomes (Baker, 2006).  Much less is known about the protective effect student–teacher relationships on risk-taking behavior.  The current study aims to use Structural Equation Modeling to add to the body of research on how student-teacher relationships can act as protective factors for risk-taking behaviors such as aggression, delinquency, and sexual risk.  Longitudinal data was used from Phases III and IV of NICHD SECCYD data to look at outcomes for a diverse population of 1,061 children at grades 3, 5, and age 15.  The implications of the study are impacts on how we approach intervention to reduce maladaptive behaviors.