Teacher Encouragement Helps Students Stay in School

Teachers are known to have an important role in both the educational and social development of students. However, new research indicates that positive input by teachers can actually help some students continue their education, even into the university level.

Conducted by the University of Cambridge, in England, the study involved more than 4,000 adolescent students who were evaluated on an annual basis. In the last year of the evaluation, students who reported receiving encouragement from one or more of their teachers were more likely, by a margin of nearly 10 percent, to continue their education beyond what was compulsory. The rate of continuation was even higher among students of average academic performance.

The encouragement issue was of most importance to students whose parents were not themselves well-educated. Among these adolescents, teacher encouragement raised to 12 percent the rate by which they continued their education over those who reported receiving no assistance. Teacher encouragement even led to more students continuing their education beyond the secondary level. Among the children of parents who possessed college degrees, however, such encouragement had little affect on whether they continued their secondary education and no affect on whether they went on to college. More about the relationship between teachers and the success of their students is available at www.reddit.com/r/education.

According to Dr. Ben Alcott, who authored the study, the Cambridge research project further showed the importance of teacher influence in the learning and development processes of students. This research counters the more traditional view that instructors should primarily concern themselves with teaching specific subjects and with disciplinary matters. The study should give teachers who elect to provide such encouragement a better understanding of the effects of their actions long after the students are beyond their influence. However, some aspects of teacher influence were known long before this study, with Alcott noting how adults will often point to the actions of a certain instructor when referring to a positive experience taking place when they were in school.


April 26, 2017

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