Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Joel Meyers, PhD

Second Advisor

Andrew Roach, PhD

Third Advisor

Kris Varjas, PsyD

Fourth Advisor

Don E. Davis, PhD

Abstract

School climate has been established as an important construct to measure because of its connections to student psychological, social, and academic outcomes. Existing research has examined school climate in relation to individual (i.e., race and gender) and school level (i.e., teacher characteristics or school size) variables. The current paper presents a cultural-ecological model for research on school climate. The cultural-ecological model of school climate supports future research incorporating a broadened view of culture, extending beyond race and ethnicity, and a more comprehensive examination of ecological contexts such as the family and community in understanding student perceptions of school climate. Within this model, individual, family, school, and community variables that may influence student perceptions of school climate are described and a research agenda is presented for utilizing the cultural-ecological model of school climate in future school climate research and for developing, implementing and evaluating strategies designed to enhance school climate and school performance based on prevention and intervention. The current study examined the relationship between cultural and ecological variables at the individual, school, and community levels and student perceptions of school climate. A multi-level (HLM) model examining the relationships between individual, cultural, and ecological variables and school climate was evaluated. Results of the current study indicated that for the relationship between student and school characteristics and school climate remain relatively consistent for both groups. Specifically, both individual and school variables influenced student perceptions of school climate. However, this data also confirms the need to further examine additional cultural and ecological variables in order to increase our understanding of how such variables are related to perceptions of climate.

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