Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Instructional and Curricular Studies

Number of Pages



The purpose of this year long interpretive study was to examine the creation of caring relationships among and the meanings of care to middle school students and their teacher. Specifically, I asked what care means to middle school aged students and their teacher; how caring relationships are created by middle school students and their teacher; and what influences support a teacher's inclination to care?;Because caring relationships are interactive and subject to the interpretations of the people involved in those relationships, symbolic interactionism was the framework for the study. Qualitative methodology for data gathering and the constant comparative method of data analysis were used for the investigation; Findings indicate the students and their teacher have some agreement on the meanings and symbolic acts of care; these include talking, listening, and showing concern. The teacher struggles with the issue of when coddling or tough love is in the best interest of his students. The uniquely personal nature of care is examined through detailed accounts of students whose meaningful life experiences strongly influenced their interpretations of care and through an exploration of the teacher's inclination to care; The importance of being able to take the role of the other and recognize the personal nature of care underscored the value of knowing students well. Students expressed their interpretations of "good teaching" as it influenced their perceptions of care; their views were closely aligned with effective teaching research; Implications for classroom teachers, teacher educators, and educational leaders were drawn and discussed. These included the importance of dialogue about the meaning of care, the value of interdisciplinary teams in encouraging and assisting teachers to care, and the importance of administrators providing support for teachers and modeling caring behavior. Finally, the power of caring relationships in middle level school transformation is discussed.


Care; Caring; Classroom; Creating; Interactionism; Interpretations; Meaning; Middle; Relationships; School; Symbolic; Symbolic Interactionism; Symbolic Interactionism

Controlled Subject

Curriculum planning; Education, Secondary; Educational sociology

File Format


File Size

4577.28 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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