A multilevel approach to understanding student and teacher perceptions of classroom support during early adolescence

  • Christina CiprianoEmail author
  • Tia N. Barnes
  • Kerrie A. Pieloch
  • Susan E. Rivers
  • Marc Brackett
Original Paper


Supportive classroom environments are associated with improved student outcomes, particularly during early adolescence (ages 10–14 years). Applying Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory to further investigate the microsystem of the school (Bronfenbrenner and Morris in The ecology of human development, Harvard University Press, Boston, 1998), we examined how student and teacher perceptions of classroom support relate to one another and identified which ecological characteristics impact student and teacher perceptions of support. Using data from 35 grade 5–6 classrooms, we examined parallel models of students’ and teachers’ perceptions of classroom support as a function of individual-, classroom- and school-level characteristics. Students’ perceptions varied substantially between students in the same classroom, and differences between schools accounted for important variability in students’ perceptions. In contrast, teachers’ perceptions showed no between-school variability; all variability in teachers’ perceptions could be attributed to varying experiences of teachers in the same school. Additionally, students’ perceptions of support were significantly and positively associated with teachers’ perceptions of support. Taken together, results suggest that educational interventions targeting classroom processes should be enacted at the school level and assessed by both teacher and student in an attempt to capture the breadth of perceptions and optimise outcomes among early adolescents.


Classroom- and school-level characteristics Multilevel modeling Student and teacher perceptions Supportive classrooms 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale Center for Emotional IntelligenceYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, Center for Research in Education and Social Policy, School of Education, 213 Alison HallUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Suffolk UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.iThrive, Centerstone Research InstituteNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Yale School of MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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