Students' experiences and perceptions of relationships : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
This thesis reports on student experiences and perceptions of the relationships they encountered in their first year of study at a faculty of education. The research design uses an explanatory sequential mixed-methods approach to produce a nuanced view of the answers to the research question. Quantitative data were gathered from students via a Likert-scale survey questionnaire, followed by interviews with some of the survey participants.
The quantitative data were analysed via factor analysis and factor scores were generated for five different relationship factors. The survey data were examined from the points of view provided by the demographic data gathered from the students.
Semi-structured interviews with 17 students provided the opportunity to dig deeper into the stories that lay behind the questionnaire results.
Findings are presented as a series of propositions: that peer relationships play a powerful role in binding students to their learning; that the relationship with the lecturer also plays this role; that the evidence about institutional relationships is mixed; that for some students, it is the relationship with the content that is the binding one; and that there exists a complex ecology of student needs, which need to be understood and addressed in different ways.
Implications of the findings are that stakeholders in the higher education enterprise need to ensure the building of positive, supportive, learning relationships with students in the future; it is from the firm base of these relationships that successful, sustained learning will flow.