Pre-service special educators’ understandings of relational competence

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Research demonstrates that the teacher-student relationship is essential for students with special educational needs. This article investigates how pre-service special educators (n = 74) perceive teachers’ relational competence, as manifested in their relations with students exhibiting behavioral difficulties. The data comprises educators’ written analyses of teacher-student interactions simulated through digital video, both before and after being provided with explicit criteria on teachers’ relational competence. The findings reveal a change in the educators’ perceptions as they shift from a focus on teaching strategies and the learning environment toward an awareness of teacher-student interaction, and from the teacher’s management of problematic student behavior toward an acknowledgment of the communicative and socio-emotional challenges in contexts involving students with different needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number678793
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in education: teacher education
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Educational Sciences (503)


  • Teacher-student relationship
  • relational competence
  • special education teacher preparation
  • students with special educational needs
  • video-based intervention


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