An Inquiry in Caring: Valuing Secondary Students' Perspectives

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dorothy Ettling


Robert Connelly


Susan Hall


Jessica Kimmel


The purpose of this phenomenological case study was to examine how secondary students perceive their caring relations within a unique magnet school. This study explored how students perceived the practice of the ethic of care and what interactions they deemed to be caring. This study also considered the role of teachers, administration and students and how they let others know they care about them, as well as how the organizational culture of the school also played an important role in the students’ perception of a caring educational environment. The data from this investigation includes rich descriptions and examples of how the student participants experience care. This study considered school cultural contributions to the practice of the ethic of care. The roles of teachers and administrators were included in guiding and facilitating caring practice. Lastly, this investigation explored how students saw themselves as participants and providers of care. Major themes include: (a) respect, (b) help, (c) effective teaching, and (d) school community. Recommendations for practice include providing awareness that students deem caring to be an important aspect of teaching and learning. Effective policy should be considered that would maximize the opportunities for the establishment of caring relationships. School size and the establishment of community were important to the caring organizational culture for the students in this study. Policy makers should consider these aspects as they work to improve student achievement and the quality of secondary schools.

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