Teachers’ Professional Boundary Transgressions

Teachers are encouraged to build supportive, nurturing relationships with students to help foster productive learning and to support student wellbeing. Developments in technology are changing some of the ways that teachers and students communicate around learning. However, such developments also hold potential for blurring professional boundaries in teacher-student relationships, increasing the risk of boundary transgressions and potential allegations of misconduct. Correspondingly, identifying how best to define, understand and support teachers to establish and maintain professional and ethical boundaries has been receiving increased attention in Australia.

This study aimed to investigate and analyse factors that relate to teachers transgressing their professional boundaries. The research involved a scoping review of literature to explore the factors relating to teachers’ professional boundary transgressions and to identify existing approaches to supporting teachers to establish and maintain professional boundaries. A comprehensive scoping review methodology was used to gather data, using Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) five-stage framework.

The research was commissioned by the Queensland College of Teachers as part of their ongoing commitment to safe-guarding students and to improving and upholding the standards of the teaching profession in Queensland.  

Research Team

SCU Investigators: Prof Anne Graham, Prof Nan Bahr, Julia Truscott, Dr Mary Ann Powell

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Project Report & Summary