Educators Rank Relationships as Top Factor in Classroom Effectiveness

 New Pearson survey offers insights into what keeps great teachers in the classroom

The ability to build relationships with students was the top trait of an effective teacher, according to a new survey released today from Pearson. Survey respondents included teachers, students, parents, school administrators and policymakers from around the globe. While the survey was fielded in 23 countries, respondents from the U. S. were united in their top choice. Other intangible teacher traits such patience, kindness and understanding their students also ranked high among respondents, proving the value of personal connections in the classroom.

These findings are especially important as conversations continue around the U. S. teacher shortage and what support teachers want-and need-everyday in the classroom.

“It’s important to listen to what teachers, students and parents are saying in this survey. Teachers, in particular, are clearly telling us they view their connections with students as a priority in the classroom,” says Kristen DiCerbo, Ph.D., vice president of education research at Pearson. “The education community has a responsibility to provide tools that build these traits and make classroom relationships productive. By doing that, we all can play a role in keeping great teachers in classroom.”

According to the survey, the top 10 qualities U.S respondents say make an effective teacher are:

  1. Ability to develop trusting, compassionate relationships
  2. Patient, caring and kind personality
  3. Knowledge of learners
  4. Dedication to teaching
  5. Subject matter knowledge
  6. Professionalism
  7. Ability to engage and motivate learners in their learning
  8. Teaching skills/pedagogical approach
  9. Creativity in planning and delivering instruction
  10. Managing the classroom learning environment

Only a small percentage of educator responses (teachers, principals, researchers) indicated the importance of teachers demonstrating specific knowledge or research proven skills to impact student learning. Less than one percent responded that integrating technology was important; and only 1.7 percent addressed the teacher’s focus on developing students’ non-cognitive skills.

“Pearson supports teachers with personalized learning through technology and quality content. This frees up teachers to build relationships and use them to improve learning,” says DiCerbo. “By developing products that deliver on outcomes, Pearson aims to allow teachers to focus less on content creation and more on learning.”

Pearson surveyed a total of 23 countries as part of its Global Survey of Educator Effectiveness. The U.S. results align with the global findings. Globally, survey participants did not focus first on how much a teacher knew, or even what kinds of teaching methods he or she used, but instead on the teacher’s dispositions and ability to build relationships.

Reports available at:


About the Survey:

The survey, conducted in 2015, was administered across 50 states. The stakeholder groups include students ages 15-19, parents of K-12 students, K-12 teachers, K-12 administrators, and education researchers and policymakers. Respondents were asked to list, in their own words, between 3 and 15 qualities that they feel are most important in making an “effective” teacher and to indicate what type of teacher, by subject(s) and grade level(s), they were thinking about while creating their list. Data was collected by Dashboard Marketing Intelligence. The U.S. survey is a part of a larger Global Survey of Educator Effectiveness. Pearson has surveyed 23 countries about what makes an effective teacher.

About Dashboard Marketing Intelligence:

Dashboard Marketing Intelligence is a full service market research and strategy business that offers customised research and analysis services such as brand tracking, offer optimisation, customer experience assessment and media intelligence. Dashboard lead and run multiple projects across the globe, including Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific and have a specific focus on developing markets. Dashboard Marketing Intelligence work for clients across the full spectrum of vertical markets, including financial services, FMCG, government, media and entertainment, telecommunication and education. For more information on Dashboard Marketing Intelligence, please visit

Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Our mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. We believe that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. For more, visit