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Teacher-student relationship in an age of student consumerism

HON, KA,LING (2015) Teacher-student relationship in an age of student consumerism. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is about teacher-student relationship in higher education. Set against the background of marketization, when the higher education sector is seen as a market, education institutions act like business enterprises, and students are seen as customers, teacher-student relationship is commonly perceived as having transformed itself to resemble a customer-seller relationship. On a conceptual level, this transformation is doing a disservice to the sector, as revealed in the many obvious differences between a customer-seller relationship and that between teachers and students. Academics, in particular, vehemently resist such conceptualizations, blaming such transformations as the main culprit of the prevalence of students’ disengagement and incivility in higher education nowadays. While much of what has been said about the negative influence of student consumerism on teacher-student relationship has been anecdotal in nature, this thesis attempts to offer some empirical evidence to fill the gap in the literature. Because of its quantitative nature, this study focused on only one of the many possible dimensions of examining teacher-student relationship, the power relations, measured by the level of teachers’ influence on students. Using the Interpersonal Power Interaction Model (IPIM) as the conceptual framework, this thesis assesses the relationship between student consumerism and teacher power by (1) examining the association between the students’ consumerist attitude and teachers’ hard and soft power bases and (2) establishing the moderation effect of students’ consumerist attitude on the relationship between students’ personality variables and teachers’ soft and hard power bases. The study was conducted in the HKUSPACE Community College, the leading community college of the sector which has been operating on a fully self-financing status since its establishment in 2000. Data was collected by way of a questionnaire survey covering the key variables including students’ consumerist attitude, compliance with teachers’ power, as well as four personality variables: motivation orientation, desire for control, concern for appropriateness and self-esteem. Statistical analysis of the findings from the research confirmed only some of the hypotheses. In terms of correlation, while students’ consumerist attitude was found to be positively associated with soft power base as hypothesized, its correlation with hard power base was also found to be positive, which was contradictory to the hypothesis. In terms of moderation, consumerist attitude was found to moderate only three out of ten relationships between personality factors and teacher power bases. Specifically, students’ consumerist attitude was found to moderate the relationship between intrinsic motivation and compliance with both hard and soft power bases, as well as that between concern for appropriateness and soft power base. Results have been analyzed in light of the literature on instructional communication and teaching effectiveness with implications offered to warn educators against the potential abuse of soft power as well as on the proper use of both power bases to exercise positive influence on students. Implications were also drawn on further research in the area of teacher-student relationship in the context of a marketized education sector.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Student consumerism, teacher-student relationship, higher education, social power
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Apr 2015 15:05

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