”Han gör min dag bra”... “men det är inte bara glass och ballonger”
: En kvalitativ studie om hur lärare och elever beskriver lärar-elev relationer i särskolan

Translated title of the thesis: “He makes my day” … “but it's not all ice-cream and balloons”: A qualitative study of how teachers and students describe teacher-student relationships in Compulsory and Upper secondary school for pupils with intellectual disabilities
  • Eriksson Helene
  • Magnusson Josefine

Student thesis: Professional degree, Advanced level


The purpose of this study is to shed light on how teachers and students in Compulsory and Upper secondary school for pupils with intellectual disabilities, describe their relationships with each other as well as identifying similarities and differences between these descriptions. The theoretical framework for this study is Aspelin's (2018) model of relational competence. Specifically, the aspects of communicative competence, differentiation competence, socio-emotional competence, a social and a relational approach are used in the analysis process. The study is qualitative and consists of interviews with 4 teachers and 7 pupils in an Upper secondary national program for pupils with intellectual disabilities. The results show that the teachers consider themselves responsible for creating relationships, and the students also take responsibility for creating a good relationship with their teachers.

The students' results show that the different parts of the relational competence can be seen in a teacher who speaks clearly, slowly and shows goodwill with their body language. The students are positive towards the teacher being a friend. Relational competence is seen in a teacher who can balance between humor and seriousness in their teaching, and in a teacher, who chooses not to raise their voice to reprimand but instead chooses to use verbal communication or other adaptations. 

The teacher interviews show that adaptations in the learning environment benefit the teacher-student relationship. Furthermore, the relational competence is seen in a teacher who uses their body language and voice position as well as a low arousal approach towards the student. The teachers emphasize the importance of a genuine interest in the student, they want to create a feeling of safety towards the student and instill self-confidence within them and see every individual without "lumping them together" according to their diagnoses. The teachers claim that the establishing of positive relationships also poses a challenge in terms of setting boundaries between their professional and private lives. Finally, the teacher education programs had only provided relational competence training to a small extent. 

Date of Award2021-Jun-21
Original languageSwedish
SupervisorKerstin Ahlqvist (Supervisor) & Cecilia Segerby (Examiner)

Educational program

  • Special Education Teacher Programme

University credits

  • 15 HE credits

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Pedagogical Work (50304)
  • Pedagogy (50301)
  • Learning (50303)


  • compulsory school for children with intellectual disabilities
  • good relationships
  • intellectual disability
  • teachers’ relational competence
  • teacher - student relationships
  • relations
  • relational perspective

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