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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sharon F. Rallis

Second Advisor

Richard Lapan

Third Advisor

Erica Scharrer

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Educational Psychology | Other Educational Administration and Supervision | Urban Education


This study investigates the influence of teacher held implicit theories about intelligence on the quality of their relationships with students within the context of a school co-located in a secure juvenile justice setting serving adjudicated adolescent boys. In Massachusetts, adjudicated youth attending schools co-located in juvenile justice residential settings have significant gaps in their formal schooling, are culturally diverse, come from impoverished communities, and have high rates of learning disabilities. Their teachers, on the other hand, are mostly middle class, white, and well educated. As such, an immense social and cultural relational divide inherently exists between the teachers and their students working in these settings. And yet, the importance of forming quality teacher-student relationships is widely regarded as essential to achieving a wide range of outcome measures, including engagement, motivation, and achievement (Goodenow, 1993; Midgley, Feldaufer, & Eccles, 1989; Hamre & Pianta, 2005; Stewart, 2008; Hughes & Kwok, 2007). Given these realities, and in order to improve the outcomes for adjudicated youth, improving our understanding about the factors that influence the quality of teacher-student relationships is paramount. This study explores how teacher held implicit theories about intelligence as either fixed or malleable may mediate efforts to form quality teacher-student relationships in service to student learning. Surveys, classroom observation, and teacher interview data were used to increase understanding about the influence of implicit theories of intelligence on teacher-student relationship quality.