A Mixed Methods Pilot Study of an Equity-Explicit Student-Teacher Relationship Intervention for the Ninth-Grade Transition

Larissa M. Gaias, Clayton R. Cook, Lillian Nguyen, Stephanie K. Brewer, Eric C. Brown, Sharon Kiche, Jiajing Shi, Jodie Buntain-Ricklefs, Mylien T. Duong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Student-teacher relationships are associated with the social and emotional climate of a school, a key domain of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model. Few interventions target student-teacher relationships during the critical transition to high school, or incorporate strategies for enhancing equitable relationships. We conducted a mixed-methods feasibility study of a student-teacher relationship intervention, called Equity-Explicit Establish-Maintain-Restore (E-EMR). METHODS: We tested whether students (N = 133) whose teachers received E-EMR training demonstrated improved relationship quality, school belonging, motivation, behavior, and academic outcomes from pre- to post-test, and whether these differences were moderated by race. We also examined how teachers (N = 16) integrated a focus on equity into their implementation of the intervention. RESULTS: Relative to white students, students of the color showed greater improvement on belongingness, behavior, motivation, and GPA. Teachers described how they incorporated a focus on race/ethnicity, culture, and bias into E-EMR practices, and situated their relationships with students within the contexts of their own identity, the classroom/school context, and broader systems of power and privilege. CONCLUSIONS: We provide preliminary evidence for E-EMR to change teacher practice and reduce educational disparities for students of color. We discuss implications for other school-based interventions to integrate an equity-explicit focus into program content and evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1018
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (R305B170021, R305A170458) and the National Institute of Mental Health (F32MH116623).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of School Health published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American School Health Association.


  • education equity
  • implicit bias
  • school program evaluation
  • student-teacher relationships
  • teacher professional development
  • transition to high school transition


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