Justice in the Classroom: Evaluation of Teacher Behaviors According to Students’ Perceptions

Ekber TOMUL*, Kazım ÇELİK** and Ali TAŞ***
*Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, Faculty of Education, Burdur-Turkey.
**Asist. Prof. Dr. Pamukkale University, Faculty of Education, Denizli-Turkey.
***Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kırıkkale University, Faculty of Education, Kırıkkale-Turkey.


Problem Statement: In Turkey, students’ perceptions about teachers’ discrimination and justice behaviors and their effects on teacher-student relations have not been extensively studied. Within educational contexts, especially in justice literature, there is a lack of research about the perceptions of teacher candidates, as well as about teachers’ and students’ abilities to form a common meaning for symbols, values, and behaviors in order to better understand teacher-student relations, to know the process of forming relations, and to better train teachers.

Purpose of the Study: This study aims to define students’ perceptions about teachers’ discrimination and justice behaviors. For that purpose, the relation between perceived causes of discrimination and justice was measured in terms of students’ socio-economic status and gender.

Method: Data were obtained from the students attending the Education Faculty of Mehmet Akif Ersoy, Pamukkale, Sinop, Ondokuz Mayıs, and Siirt Universities in Turkey. The study group consisted of 1,092 participants, comprising 61.17% girls and 38.83% boys. Data were analysed with correlation and t-test statistical techniques. Analysed data were presented with arithmetic means and percentages.

Results: In general, students perceive that teachers discriminate due to socio-economic status. Data show that while 28.3% of students claim teachers do not discriminate based on socio-economic status, 71.7% say they do. Most students think that teachers behave unfairly in both distributing instruments, grades, punishment, rewards, and the like, and in their relations with some students. In this study, it was found that there is a negative correlation between students’ perceptions of a teacher’s relational justice behaviors and socio-economic status; thus, a student’s socio-economic status can be an important variable in the perception of discrimination and justice. When a student perceives that s/he has been discriminated because of socio-economic status, the student thinks that teachers are unfair in their relations with students. When students think that teachers discriminate because of socio-economic reasons, they are also of the opinion that teachers are unfair in their distributive and relational roles.

Conclusions and Recommendations: Consequently, most students think that teachers’ attitudes and behaviors in the classroom are unfair. They also think that this discrimination has a high correlation with students’ socio-economic status. There is a strong relation between students’ socioeconomic status and students’ perceptions of discrimination and justice. Teachers may have more successful relationships with their students by ascertaining their socio-economic status. To overcome the prejudiced perceptions of students, teachers should always be fair and sincere in their affairs and also in evaluation processes.

Keywords: discrimination; justice in the class; justice perception; teacher behavior.