Teacher Support and Competencies for Fostering Youth Purpose and Psychological Well-Being: Perspectives from Two Countries

Authors: 
Matthew J. Bundick and Kirsi Tirri
Publication date: 
April/2011
Publication name or Publisher: 
American Education Research Association

With the growing interest in the development of purpose in youth, one important role that requires attention is the school teacher. The current paper explores the role teachers play in stimulating and fostering purpose in their students in the mid- and late adolescent years, and the teacher competencies which facilitate purpose development. The present investigation posits and tests a structural model in which teacher support predicts purpose, mediated by teacher competencies; in turn, purpose predicts broader psychological well-being. Two samples of demographically diverse young people ages 13-18 were surveyed in the United States (N=383) and Finland (N=336). Results showed support for the role of teachers in fostering purpose, and provided evidence for the hypothesized model. Implications of these findings for developing teacher competencies and study limitations are discussed.