Positive Teacher Language: Improving Teacher-Student Relationships and Engaging Low Progress Students

Project Number
AFR 03/16 GEP

Project Duration
January 2017 - December 2018


In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on low progress students in Singapore. While research has shown that a strong and positive teacher-student relationship promote learning for low progress students, limited studies in Singapore context have explored teacher-student relationship and its impact on low progress students. Thus, the purpose of this research study is to evaluate the impact of a teacher professional development programme, Positive Teacher Language, to improve teacher-student relationships and to engage low progress students. Positive Teacher Language focuses on the words teachers use when talking to students, the intention behind the words use, how words are being delivered, and how teacher language shape student perception. Specifically, the objectives of the research will be to (1) evaluate the effectiveness of the Positive Teacher Language intervention on students’ academic achievement, classroom engagement, social and emotional development, as well as teacher-student relationships; (2) examine the impact of mentor check-in and performance feedback on teachers’ treatment integrity of the Positive Teacher Language intervention; and (3) explore teachers’ perception of the effectiveness and acceptability of the Positive Teacher Language intervention and performance feedback procedure. Primary school teachers, teaching Primary 3 to Primary 5 classrooms and have low progress students in their classes, will be recruited to participate in the study. Senior teachers will also be recruited as mentor teachers to guide the teacher participants. In addition, low progress students (three to four in each participating teachers’ classroom) will be recruited. This research will utilize a multiple probe across participants design. Direct observational data on classroom engagement of the low progress students and their academic performance within the classroom will be collected. Frequency data of teacher’s use of Positive Teacher Language will also be gathered. Aside from the direct observational data, the participants will be administered standardized measures to assess the following: (a) teacher-student relationship, (b) students’ academic self-efficacy measure, and (c) students’ social and emotional development. Lastly, teachers’ perception of the effectiveness and acceptability of the Positive Teacher Language intervention will be assessed.

Funding Source

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