Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Teacher connectedness as a health asset

The HBSC England and HBSC Spanish team have recently collaborated to explore the role of teacher connectedness in young people’s well-being. The findings have been published in the Health Education Journal in a paper titled “Subjective well-being in adolescence and teacher connectedness: A health asset analysis”.

Teacher connectedness can be viewed as a feature of overall school connectedness, which Blum and Libbey (2004)1  define as an academic environment in which young people believe adults care about them and their learning. Teacher connectedness refers to constructive and supportive student-teacher relationships. Extensive research has demonstrated the positive outcomes school and teacher connectedness can have on young people's health and well-being, including risk behaviours2,3,4.

The paper sought to establish whether teacher connectedness was associated with well-being in young people of different ages and from different countries. Moreover, this research aimed to identify whether teacher connectedness has the same effect on well-being irrespective of young people's academic performance.  

The study included a total of 9444 students aged 11-, 13- and 15 years old, who completed the 2010 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey in Spain and England. Teacher connectedness was measured through a 5 item scale assessing student-teacher relationships, which was originally developed and validated within the HBSC network5. Items included "my teachers are interested in me as a person", and students responded on a 5 point scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Young people's well-being was assessed with KIDSCREEN-10, a measure of health related quality of life specifically designed for young people6. KIDSCREEN-10 is derived from the more extensive KIDSCREEN-52, and measures physical, social, emotional and behavioural components of well-being.  School performance was measured through the question "In your opinion, what does your class teacher(s) think about your school performance compared to your classmates?", with response options "very good", "good", "average" and "below average".

Analysis demonstrated that teacher connectedness was positively associated with young people's well-being despite gender, age or country. While small differences between age and country were identified, overall it appears teacher connectedness can be viewed as a universal health asset for young people's well-being. Moreover, the association between teacher connectedness and well being was independent of perceived school performance; young people who reported below average school performance benefitted from teacher connectedness also.

For a more detailed discussion of this research you can access the published paper by clicking here.


  1. Blum, R. W. & Libbey, H. P. (2004). school connectedness - Strengthening health and education outcomes for teenagers - Executive summary. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 231-232.
  2. McNeely, C. & Falci, C. (2004). School connectedness and the transition into and out of health-risk behavior among adolescents: a comparison of social belonging and teacher support. J Sch Health, 74(7),284–92.
  3. Brooks, F., Magnusson, J., Spencer, N. & Morgan, A. (2012). Adolescent multiple risk behaviour: An assets approach to the role of family, school and community. Journal of Public Health, 34(S1), 48–56.
  4. Blum, R. W. (2005). A case for school connectedness. Educational Leadership, 62(7), 16–20.
  5. Torsheim, T., Wold, B. & Samdal, O. (2000). The teacher and classmate support scale: Factor structure, test–retest reliability and validity in samples of 13- and 15-year old adolescents. School Psychology International, 21(2), 195–212.
  6.  Ravens-Sieberer, U., Herdman, M., Devine, J., Otto, C., Bullinger, M., Rose, M., & Klasen, F. (2014). The European KIDSCREEN approach to measure quality of life and well-being in children: development, current application, and future advances. Quality of Life Research, 23(3), 791–803.