Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling

Articles

Supportive and Stressful Relationships With Teachers, Peers and Family and Their Influence on Students' Social/Emotional and Academic Experience of School

Rosalind Murray-Harveya1 c1 and Phillip T. Sleea2

a1 Flinders University, Australia. rosalind.murray-harvey@flinders.edu.au

a2 Flinders University, Australia.

Abstract

Judgments about the quality of students' experience of school generally focus on their academic performance and indeed this is an important indicator but closer attention needs to be paid to equally important, more broadly based outcomes that include social/emotional adjustment as they also are shown to impact on students' lives at, and beyond school. In this study, students' academic performance and social/emotional adjustment were informed by data collected from both students and teachers. Teachers of years 5 to 9 students in 58 separate classes across 21 South Australia schools reported on randomly selected students in each of their classes yielding data for 888 students who themselves reported through a questionnaire on (a) the extent to which they perceived relationships with family, peers and teachers as sources of stress or support at school; (b) their psychological health; (c) coping strategies; (d) experience of bullying and victimisation; (e) their academic performance; and (f) feelings about and sense of belonging to school. Data were used to estimate direct and indirect effects of a path model of hypothesised influences on students' social/emotional adjustment to school. The model fit the data well. The quality of a student's experience of school is most accurately represented by the inter-relationship of both academic and social/emotional outcomes which are influenced in large part by the quality of the relationships (supportive or stressful) among students, not only with peers and families but also with teachers who exert just as strong, and a sometimes stronger influence, on students' wellbeing.

Correspondence

c1 Address for Correspondence: Rosalind Murray-Harvey (PhD), Professor in Education, School of Education, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5045, Australia.