Microscopic relational analysis: a method for researching the teacher-student relationship

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During the last decades, a large body of research has contributed to knowledge on the teacher-student relationship (TSR). However, more research is needed regarding TSR as constructed in interaction and on developing methods for investigating such processes. This paper outlines a method for detailed, close interpretation and analysis of TSR, tentatively labelled ‘Microscopic Relational Analysis’ (MRA). It discusses MRA’s relevance to studying TSR and how MRA can be conducted. The following five themes and principles are discussed and illustrated through previous and ongoing studies: (1) MRA focuses on TSR as a dynamic phenomenon, a social bond that continuously changes in interaction; (2) MRA explores connections between TSR and the microworld of the classroom, i.e. social processes beneath the surface of interaction; (3) MRA implies oscillation between smaller parts and greater wholes; it includes meticulous transcriptions of interaction, and interpretations about qualities of TSR; (4) MRA acknowledges teachers’ and students’ subjective experiences in TSR, i.e. their thoughts, feelings, and intentions; (5) MRA primarily uses video recordings; such material enables detailed descriptions, analyses, and interpretations of TSR as built sequence by sequence in interaction. Implications for researchers, teacher educators, and in-service teachers are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2042244
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Early online date2022-Feb-24
Publication statusPublished - 2022-Feb-24

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Educational Sciences (503)


  • teacher-student relationship
  • Relational competence
  • Thomas J. Scheff
  • Microscopic relational analysis (MRA)
  • relational pedagogy
  • relational competence
  • Teacher-student relationship
  • microscopic relational analysis (MRA)


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