Key Questions

1. What are the respective levels of relational trust in schools in Valparaíso and Illinois as experienced by teachers and students?

2. How does relational trust correlate with school leadership and with the collaboration among teachers in the respective contexts?

3. What are the similarities and differences between the two contexts in the association between relational trust and the size of school enrollment and socioeconomic background of students?    


In an unusual research collaboration, scholars in Chile and the US collected similar empirical data across their two countries to investigate and contrast relational trust in schools in Valparaíso, Chile and Illinois, US. The most salient finding was that, when asked about constructs associated with relational trust, teachers and students responded similarly and positively across the two regions with respect to trust among teachers, between teachers and principals, and between students and teachers. Similarities emerged regardless of differences in geography; nationality, language and culture; and structure of education systems. Relational trust, which involves respecting, caring for, and believing in the honesty and competence of one’s colleagues, seems to materialize in schools, regardless of vast differences in environments. Given that trust is a vital force for school improvement, this is encouraging news for both regions. Nevertheless we observed that teacher-parent trust was much lower in Valparaíso and that there were differences in the operation of factors that condition levels of trust, specifically size of schools and socioeconomic status of the student body.