Uniform TitleInitial classmate acceptance reduces freshman year decline in sense of school belonging among urban high school students
NameUrga, Phuong-Anh (author), Bry, Brenna (chair), Harris, Sandra (internal member), Labouvie, Erich (internal member), Forman, Susan (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
High school environment,
Identity (Psychology) in adolescence
DescriptionAlthough research has examined the positive outcomes associated with sense of school belonging, relatively little empirical attention has been given to identifying the variables that influence or contribute to sense of belonging. There is some evidence from cross-sectional studies of middle school students that academic performance correlates with sense of school belonging. Furthermore, perceived classmate acceptance explained a significant amount of the variance in sense of belonging in one sample of middle schoolers. It is not yet clear, however, if (1) these relationships generalize to older students, and (2) if one or both of those correlates prospectively predict sense of school belonging during the key freshman year transitional period. A further question worth examining is if academic performance and perceived classmate acceptance prospectively predict sense of school belonging better than the reverse temporal sequencing (e.g., beginning of the year sense of belonging as a predictor of end of the year academic performance and classmate acceptance). The current study examined these questions in a sample of Black and Latino urban high school freshmen. Consistent with past research with younger and older adolescents, sense of school belonging declined over the course of the year in our sample of high school freshmen. With regard to predictive relations, perceived classmate acceptance, but not academic performance, prospectively predicted end of year sense of school belonging, after controlling for initial levels of sense of belonging. Furthermore, when the reverse temporal sequencing of these variables was tested, sense of school belonging did not prospectively predict perceived classmate acceptance. These findings suggest that the positive relation between perceived classmate acceptance and sense of school belonging generalizes from younger adolescents (middle schoolers) to older adolescents (high school freshmen). Although no conclusions regarding causality can be drawn from our brief longitudinal study of Black and Latino high school freshmen, given that perceived classmate acceptance prospectively predicted end of year sense of school belonging, and the lack of support for the reverse temporal sequence, the role of perceived classmate acceptance in the development and/or maintenance of sense of school belonging during the key transition into high school warrants further empirical attention.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 29-31).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.