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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. As we discuss in greater detail later, we use student collective emotional engagement as a key indicator of student learning culture and thus may refer to the two constructs interchangeably.

  2. The presented alphas are averages across the 3 years of data. In this case, the lowest α = .93 and the highest α = .96.

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Acknowledgements

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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Weiner, J.M., Higgins, M.C. Where the two shall meet: Exploring the relationship between teacher professional culture and student learning culture. J Educ Change 18, 21–48 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-016-9292-6

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Keywords

  • School culture
  • Organizational culture
  • Student engagement