Do teachers know their students? Examining teacher attunement in secondary schools
Using survey data from 457 Italian sixth grade secondary school students (M age = 11.9, SD = 0.7, 46% girls) and 58 of their teachers (M age = 45.7, SD = 9.4, 92.8% female) this study examined the extent to which secondary school teachers were attuned to their students. More specifically, we investigated the extent to which teachers were aware of which students were highly liked, disliked, prosocial, aggressive, or engaged in risky behavior. For each of these five dimensions, teacher attunement was measured by comparing teacher’s nominations to the proportion of received peer nominations per student. Then, a general teacher attunement score was constructed by calculating the mean of these five scores. Descriptive analyses showed a moderate teacher attunement, which was highest for prosocial behavior and lowest for risk behavior. It was investigated whether certain teachers had a higher attunement than others. Our analyses showed that teacher attunement was positively associated with the amount of time teachers spent with their students and with their experience as a teacher. Furthermore, attunement was negatively associated with classroom size.