Special Education M.A.

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Mrozinski, Jan

Second Reader

Charles Strand;


Researchers, educational professionals, and classroom teachers consistently seek out ways to engage students in the classroom. For some students, engagement comes naturally. They connect easily with people and are by nature, curious and active learners. For these students, traditionally taught textbook engagement strategies are often very effective and lead to a vibrant classroom experience. Conversely, in almost every classroom there are one, or two students. The one who the classroom teacher struggles to connect with. The student is disengaged in the classroom, does not complete work or participate in class lectures and discussions. Though well educated in engagement strategies, classroom teachers often find it challenging, and frequently, fail, in building relationships and engaging these students. Research has demonstrated that students’ engagement improves as their relationship with their teachers improves. Often students who are struggling in the classroom are also students who are struggling with mental health concerns, which frequently present in internalizing or externalizing behaviors. Given this, it is highly relevant to explore and determine strategies that show positive impacts related to student-teacher relationships. Intentionally implementing relationship-building strategies and better incorporating ways to connect are likely to show positive impacts in students with mental health concerns, who have previously had challenges in the classroom.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis