Relationships Between Student Perception of Teacher-Student Relations and PISA Results in Mathematics and Science

  • Jaan Mikk
  • Heiki Krips
  • Ülle Säälik
  • Karmen Kalk


Teacher-student relations have a significant correlation with student motivation, academic performance and discipline. For example, the meta-analysis by Hattie (2009) revealed an effect size of d = 0.72 for the effect of relations on achievement, and the meta-analysis by Finn, Schrodt, Witt, Elledge, Jernberg & Larson (Communication Education, 58(4), 516–537, 2009) showed a correlation of 0.55 between the perceived care by teachers and student achievement. These were established by comparing students, but comparisons of schools or countries with high or low levels of teacher-student relations are missing. The present paper analyses the correlation between teacher-student relations and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 results in science and mathematics on three levels: student, school and country level. The study shows a weak positive relationship (correlations up to 0.16) at the student level, and a positive relationship (up to 0.34) at school level. The multilevel analysis revealed a negative relationship between teacher-student relations and PISA results (r = −.51) at the country level. To understand the negative relationship, also known as an ecological fallacy, the countries were grouped into geographical regions in which the relationship was insignificant and the positive effect of teacher-student relations was found by comparing with some neighboring countries. Implications for practice and further studies are proposed on the basis of these findings.


Ecological fallacy Multilevel analysis Physics and mathematics education PISA Teacher-student relations 



This research was supported by the European Social Fund No 1.2.0302.09-004.

We are also thankful to Karin Täht for the data analysis.


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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaan Mikk
    • 1
  • Heiki Krips
    • 1
  • Ülle Säälik
    • 1
  • Karmen Kalk
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Education, University of TartuTartuEstonia

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