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Student perceptions of the classroom environment are used as a policy-relevant marker of teacher quality. Yet the influences on students' perceptions are less well understood. We examined (a) whether individual-level factors (achievement goals, perceptions of their previous classroom, and teacher ratings of ability) were associated with students' perceptions of teacher emotional support, and (b) whether classroom observations of teacher unfairness/unfriendliness predicted systematic within-classroom variation in students' reports of emotional support. Multilevel analysis of 1303 students in 80 7th grade mathematics classrooms indicated that students' perceptions of their 6th grade teacher, mastery orientation, and the teacher's perceptions of ability predicted end-of-the-year perceptions of emotional support. Although the observed level of teacher unsupportiveness did not predict mean-level of emotional support, students' perceptions of their teachers were more variable in classrooms observed as higher in unfairness/unfriendliness. Investigating heteroskedasticity highlights the importance of using methods for understanding variability in students' perceptions of the classroom.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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