Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 21–48 | Cite as

Where the two shall meet: Exploring the relationship between teacher professional culture and student learning culture



This study focuses on the understudied connection between teachers’ and students’ perceptions of school culture. Utilizing a longitudinal sample of approximately 130,000 students and 9000 teachers in 225 New York City traditional public schools, we investigate how professional culture among teachers intersects with students’ collective emotional engagement—that is, the extent students together view the school environment as trusting and respectful, both between teachers and students and among students (i.e., student learning culture). We find that when the teachers report a strong collaborative culture, believe they have adequate materials, and feel physically safe, students report a stronger and more positive learning culture. Our results thus fill a gap in prior research on school change that has looked at either teacher or student perceptions of school culture but not the two together. Here, because our results demonstrate such a positive relationship between the collective views of teachers and the collective views of students regarding the environment in which these groups work, they suggest new avenues for research to examine how such subcultures within a school may, together, act as critical and interdependent levers for school change.


School culture Organizational culture Student engagement 



All research was conducted using data from New York City public schools. Neither author has any financial interest nor will any benefit arise in the direct application of this research.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neag School of EducationUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA

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