Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Profiles of perceived school climate: The impact on development for urban youth
by Schotland, Marieka, Ph.D., New York University, 2011, 160; 3445323
Abstract (Summary)

The context of school is a very salient and important arena for adolescent development. Adolescents spend a considerable amount of their waking hours in school, and thus, examination of students’ perceptions of school climate provides an important insight into the junction of school context and development. School climate has been linked to both academic outcomes and psychological well-being. Perceptions of interpersonal relations, issues concerning safety, and feelings of autonomy and respect have all been associated with academic engagement outcomes, self-esteem and depression.

To date, most studies examine school climate with a uni-dimensional construct (i.e., summary score of multiple dimensions), or with each dimension of school climate predicting outcomes (i.e., teacher support and achievement). These approaches fail to consider the inherent inter-relatedness of the various aspects of school climate and their collective influence on academic and psycho-social outcomes. Thus, we have little understanding of how multiple aspects of school climate may comprehensively influence adolescents. To obtain a clearer understanding of how youth experience their school climate and its impact on development, it is necessary to examine students’ perceptions of developmentally critical dimensions of school climate in a holistic fashion, how these perceptions relate to outcomes, and how these perceptions change overtime.

The present study seeks to understand how urban middle school students perceive interpersonal, structural, and autonomous dimensions of school climate over time, and how those perceptions impact development through three inter-related studies. The first study uses idiographic cluster analytic methods to explore profiles of students’ perceptions of peer relations, feelings of safety, and teacher support and respect, paying attention to differences that may exist across demographic groups. The second study examines the relationship between these profiles of perceived school climate and academic engagement, self-esteem and depression. The third study explores how profiles of perceived school climate emerge one year later, how these profiles differ from students’ initial perceptions at the start of middle school, and how these profiles are related to concurrent academic engagement, self-esteem and depression. Examination of these dimensions and their link to academic and psycho-social outcomes further elucidates the important role school climate plays in adolescent development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hughes, Diane
Commitee: Cappella, Elise, Ozer, Emily, Seidman, Edward, Way, Niobe
School: New York University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Educational psychology
Keywords: Adjustment, Adolescents, Cluster analysis, School climate, School context
Publication Number: 3445323
ISBN: 978-1-124-54479-3
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