Harris Poll Finds Perceived Respect for Teachers Has Declined

High school teachers identified as most influential

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

NEW YORK , N.Y. – January 23, 2014 – With winter break over and the holidays retreating into memory, students, parents and teachers dive into the second half of the school year. With books back on the brain, it’s an appropriate time to think about the relationships teachers share with students, parents and administrators. According to a new Harris Poll, perceived levels of respect between these parties is down – dramatically so in many cases – in comparison to what Americans recall from their own K-12 experiences. While nearly four in five Americans (79%) believe students respected teachers when they were in school, that number has plummeted 48 points, with only 31% believing students respect teachers today.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,250 adults surveyed online between November 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

When thinking about school dynamics when they were K-12 students themselves, vast majorities of Americans recall respect existing between academic “stakeholders.” Respect between teachers and parents during this time is perceived as having been especially strong, with 91% of Americans each believing that teachers respected parents, and that parents respected teachers.

So what has changed? Americans’ outlook on these relationships today is far less rosy. U.S. adults are far less likely to believe these disparate groups respect one another, with perceptions of parental and student respect for teachers showing the steepest declines when compared to how Americans perceive these relationships from when they were in school themselves:

  • Only half of Americans believe parents respect teachers today (49%, down 42 points).
  • Only three in ten believe today’s K-12 students respect teachers (31%, making for a drop of 48 points).
  • Just under two-thirds of Americans believe that teachers respect parents today (64%, down 27 percentage points when compared to the percentage who believe teachers respected parents during their own K-12 schooling).
  • Roughly six in ten each believe that teachers today respect students (61%, down 25 points) and that the administration respects teachers (58%, down 30 points).

“Respect among principals, teachers, students and parents is an important aspect of a successful school ecosystem,” said Jen Loukes, vice president of the Harris Poll School Pulse, Harris Interactive’s longstanding School Satisfaction study. “Adults and children alike desire the respect of their colleagues and peers in order to perform at their best. While some of the findings around this perceived decline in respect are alarming, this is a trend the Harris Poll School Pulse will follow more closely in the coming year.”

Also troubling is the disparity between teachers perceived respect for students and parents, in comparison to the relative lack of respect these groups are seen as showing in return. Americans are considerably more likely to say teachers respect parents (64%) than that parents respect teachers (49%). Turning to the student-teacher dynamic, Americans are twice as likely to say that teachers respect students (61%) than they are to say that students respect teachers (31%).

And the most influential teacher is…

Every awards season includes at least one celebrity thanking the teacher that influenced them most in their life. Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes and Adam Sandler (who can forget him thanking his kindergarten teacher on stage at the People’s Choice Awards?) have all publicly recognized teachers that influenced them and pushed them to be successful.

The survey also asked Americans to think about teachers they may have had in the past, and to indicate during which school years they had the most influential teacher or teachers.

High school was the top response (47%), mentioned at a roughly 2-to-1 ratio over elementary school (23%). 16% of Americans pointed to middle school or junior high school (16%) and 14% said they experienced their most influential teacher or teachers in college.

  • Roughly three in ten college graduates and post grads (31% and 29%, respectively) cited college.

When asked what qualities were factors in driving teachers to the top of this list for them, challenge, inspiration and style were more likely to influence the selection than actual grasp of their subject matter. “Challenged me to do my best” (36%), “Inspired me to want to learn” (34%) and “Teaching style” (32%) were the top selections, followed by “Treated me with respect” (28%) and “Seemed to enjoy teaching” (27%).

Nearly one-fourth each pointed to the teacher or teachers being “Knowledgeable about their subject matter” (23%) and “Instilling self-confidence in me” (23%), while two in ten selected “Sense of humor” (20%).

Some factors varied along generational lines:

  • “Teaching style” appears to have been less of a factor among Echo Boomers (25%) than among their older counterparts (38% Gen Xers, 32% Baby Boomers, 39% Matures).
  • Turning to the other end of the age spectrum, Matures are more likely than any of their younger counterparts to value “Knowledgeable about subject manner” in this manner (20% Echo Boomers, 21% Gen Xers, 23% Baby Boomers, 31% Matures).

For information regarding Harris Interactive’s Harris Poll School Pulse satisfaction management tool, please contact info@harrisinteractive.com.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

TABLE 1a

PERCEIVED K-12 STAKEHOLDER RESPECT LEVELS WHEN YOU WERE A STUDENT

Summary Table

“Thinking specifically about school dynamics when you were a student in grades K-12, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. adults

Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Teachers respected parents

%

91

46

46

9

6

3

Parents respected teachers

%

91

51

40

9

7

2

Administration respected teachers

%

88

43

45

12

10

3

Teachers respected students

%

86

36

50

14

11

3

Students respected teachers

%

79

40

40

21

16

5

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 1b

PERCEIVED K-12 STAKEHOLDER RESPECT LEVELS WHEN YOU WERE A STUDENT

“Agree” Summary – by Generation & Have School Aged Children

“Thinking specifically about school dynamics when you were a student in grades K-12, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Generation

Have School Aged Children

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Teachers respected parents

91

88

93

92

97

91

92

Parents respected teachers

91

85

93

94

96

93

91

Administration respected teachers

88

81

86

92

95

87

88

Teachers respected students

86

80

86

88

96

83

87

Students respected teachers

79

62

82

88

95

79

79

 

TABLE 2a

PERCEIVED K-12 STAKEHOLDER RESPECT LEVELS TODAY

Summary Table

“And now thinking about school dynamics today in grades K-12, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. adults

Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Teachers respect parents

%

64

15

49

36

27

9

Teachers respect students

%

61

12

49

39

28

11

Administration respects teachers

%

58

13

45

42

30

12

Parents respect teachers

%

49

12

38

51

35

16

Students respect teachers

%

31

8

23

69

40

29

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 2b

PERCEIVED K-12 STAKEHOLDER RESPECT LEVELS TODAY

“Agree” Summary – by Generation & Have School Aged Children

“And now thinking about school dynamics today in grades K-12, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Generation

Have School Aged Children

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Teachers respect parents

64

71

61

60

62

63

64

Teachers respect students

61

60

63

60

61

58

62

Administration respects teachers

58

60

56

58

60

62

57

Parents respect teachers

49

57

50

46

39

58

47

Students respect teachers

31

37

35

25

22

40

28

 

TABLE 3

PERCEIVED K-12 STAKEHOLDER RESPECT LEVELS: THEN & NOW

“Agree” Summary

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Then vs. Now Difference

%

% points +/-

THEN: Teachers respected parents

91

-27

NOW: Teachers respect parents

64

THEN: Parents respected teachers

91

-42

NOW: Parents respect teachers

49

THEN: Administration respected teachers

88

-30

NOW: Administration respects teachers

58

THEN: Teachers respected students

86

-25

NOW: Teachers respect students

61

THEN: Students respected teachers

79

-48

NOW: Students respect teachers

31

TABLE 4

SCHOOL YEARS DURING WHICH HAD MOST INFLUENTIAL TEACHER(S)

by Generation, Gender & Education

“Now we’d like you to think about teachers you may have had in the past. During which school years would you say you had your most influential teacher(s)?”

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Education

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

High School or Less

Some College

College Grad

Post Grad

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

High School

47

47

41

47

52

48

45

52

45

38

45

Elementary

23

20

23

26

25

21

25

26

25

18

19

Middle School/Junior High

16

16

19

16

14

17

16

21

13

14

8

College

14

17

17

11

10

15

13

1

17

31

29

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 5

QUALITIES WHICH MADE TEACHER(S) MOST INFLUENTIAL

by Generation, Gender & Education

“Which of these qualities, if any, made this teacher or these teachers your most influential? You may choose up to three.”

Base: U.S. adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Education

Echo Boomers (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

High School or Less

Some College

College Grad

Post Grad

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Challenged me to do my best

36

35

34

37

41

36

37

35

34

43

38

Inspired me to want to learn

34

30

31

40

36

32

36

33

35

32

40

Teaching style

32

25

38

32

39

33

30

31

31

33

34

Treated me with respect

28

27

29

30

22

26

29

31

27

25

21

Seemed to enjoy teaching

27

25

22

33

25

24

30

30

26

22

25

Knowledgeable about subject matter

23

20

21

23

31

24

22

20

22

29

26

Instilled self-confidence in me

23

20

26

23

23

23

22

22

25

23

20

Sense of humor

20

23

20

19

15

22

18

21

22

17

15

Prepared me for future grades/subjects/college work

18

22

14

14

23

19

17

15

17

22

26

Lessons and advice went beyond the classroom (e.g., helped with issues with family)

13

20

15

8

7

13

13

11

14

16

15

Helped me determine what I wanted to be/shaped my career choice

10

13

10

7

10

11

9

7

11

12

13

Introduced me to new hobbies or interests

7

8

4

8

6

6

7

9

7

5

2

None of these

4

5

5

3

2

4

4

4

4

1

4

Note: Multiple responses allowed

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,250 adults (aged 18 and over), 470 of whom have children in grades K-12. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare