Teachers' Interest in Students' Personal Development: The Creation of a New Survey Scale

Abstract

While few question the importance of teacher-student relationships, less is known regarding which aspects have the most impact on students. However, exploring these aspects requires distinct measures to assess the various domains of these relationships. Several years ago, we embarked on an endeavor to create a new survey instrument to measure teacher-student relationships—focusing particularly on teachers’ personal interest in their students. This case study describes how we developed a survey scale to measure 6th-12th grade students’ perception of their teachers’ interest and investment in students’ personal development. We used Gehlbach and Brinkworth’s rigorous six-step process for survey development to maximize measurement precision. This case highlights this six-step process and several challenges we faced along the way, including

  • Distinctness: How do we define a new construct? Is our construct importantly different than other teacher-student relationship measures?
  • Feedback: What can we learn from students—our target respondents—and academics? How do we resolve conflicts in the feedback provided by these two populations?
  • Sampling: When it is difficult to acquire a representative sample for feedback, which groups of prospective respondents should we prioritize?
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