What are teacher relational skills? A defining study using a bottom-up modified Delphi method

Gerosa, Tiziano and Argentin, Gianluca and Spada, Alice (2023) What are teacher relational skills? A defining study using a bottom-up modified Delphi method. Quality & Quantity. ISSN 0033-5177

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Abstract

Relational skills are an essential work-related tool for several professions, especially teaching. This specific domain of teacher competence is acquiring ever-increasing attention due to the connection between social and emotional aspects of education and student school success. Nonetheless, a persistent focus on content-related knowledge, didactic skills and digital literacy has generated uncertainties about what teacher relational skills effectively are. In this respect, our study presents an alternative bottom-up approach for the definition of teacher relational skills based on the use of a modified Delphi method. Four iterative rounds of data collection and analysis were carried out on a sample of 35 experienced teachers. This Delphi was pushed to generate innovative definitions, taking advantage of its bottom up perspective with teachers simultaneously involved as reflective professionals and as experts by experience of professional development completion. The emerging innovative elements were coherently integrated with previous literature thanks to a circular relationship between the Delphi panelists and an external group of experts. As a result, 6 relational domains, 44 relational skills and 180 practical examples of their application were identified. Our findings underline the importance of stimulating the debate around direct experiences of effective practices for the development of competence-based working approaches, especially in the areas of socialization, relations and emotions, where well established theoretical frameworks are still a long way off.

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