The Importance of Respect in Teaching and Learning: Perspectives of Final Year Pre-service Teachers in A Regional University in Ireland

Nov. 01, 2011

Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 34, No. 4, November 2011, 501–518.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this research was to examine pre-service teachers (PSTs’) perceptions of respect in educative relationships.
This study also investigated the factors that guided the pre-service teachers’ perceptions.

The participants were12 undergraduate pre-service teachers in their final year of study.
The participants were interviewed twice (pre and post practicum) about their perceptions of respect and their experiences of respectful teaching and learning.

The research questions that guided these interviews aimed to:
examine PSTs’ concept of respect;
examine the factors that influenced their understanding of respect; and
investigate PSTs’ association of respect to teaching and learning.


Respect within an educative relationship
The respect within a teacher–pupil relationship was identified by participants as an acknowledgment by the teacher of the dignity and potential of their pupils.
This respect was also identified as an appreciation by pupils of the dignity and role of the teacher.

Additionally, the ‘respect for the role of the teacher’ was affirmed by the mutual respect between teacher and pupil.
This mutual respect was cited by participants as each recognising the efforts of other, the teacher by the pupil and the pupil by the teacher.
This was evident through such respectful actions as the praise of pupils by teachers and pupils being attentive to the teacher or acknowledging their ability to teach.

However, the ‘interpersonal respect’ was perceived by participants as the appreciation by pupils in a teacher’s capacity to relate to them, as evidenced from their own experiences in post primary education and on their teaching practicum.

Therefore the interpersonal respect between a teacher and pupil appears to have a symbiotic connection with the respect associated with the role of a teacher.

The connection between the pupil’s respect for the role of the teacher and their ability to relate to them is illustrated in the findings by the prominence of clear boundaries between teacher and pupil, to maintain a respectful relationship.

For the PSTs in this study, feeling respected in the role of the teacher by their pupils helped them to feel more confident in their abilities as a teacher.
They perceived that their pupils would reciprocate the ‘interpersonal respect’ they felt, which would result in a more respectful classroom atmosphere.



The authors conclude that the respect for the role of a teacher by their pupils is bound not solely in their subject knowledge, but can be diminished in their eyes through a perceived humiliation or can be enhanced by a willingness for the teacher to convey ‘interpersonal respect’, by attempting to relate to them.

Additionally, the participants stated that balancing ‘interpersonal respect’ and ‘respect in the role of the teacher’ helped them to feel more confident in their teaching abilities and to relate to their pupils.

Updated: Oct. 23, 2013