Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

First Advisor

Monica Swahn, PhD

Second Advisor

Chantee L. Earl, PhD

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Evidence in the literature suggests that the Southeastern United States is a region with poor academic outcomes, such as school engagement. While there is research suggesting a myriad of influences of school engagement, the relationship between the built environment and school engagement is an area of research that is not well understood. More focus has been placed on the social environment of a neighborhood and restoring the sense of trust and safety within a community, without addressing the structural and physical components that influence the perceptions of a neighborhood or community.

AIM: The purpose of this study is to examine the association between school engagement and detracting community elements. Additionally, the study aims to determine the demographic characteristics associated with school engagement and the demographic characteristics associated with detracting community elements.

METHODS: A cross-sectional analysis of the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (N= 95,677) survey data was conducted. Children between the ages 6 and 17 years living in HRSA Region IV were included in the study bringing the study sample to 8,668 children. Statistical methods used included descriptive statistics and multiple logistic regression to determine the prevalence, unadjusted, and adjusted odds ratios.

RESULTS: The results suggest significant associations between school engagement and detracting community elements (OR=1.51, 1.34-1.71 95% CI). Students that lived in neighborhoods that are considered unsafe (OR=0.50, 0.42-0.58 95% CI) and have violence (OR=2.661, 2.33-3.07 95% CI) were all less likely to have school engagement. Male students (OR=0.45, 0.40-0.50 95% CI), Black students (OR=1.34, 1.18-1.53 95% CI), and students coming from two-parent stepparent family structures (OR=2.36, 1.99-2.79 95% CI) were all less likely to experience school engagement.

DISCUSSION: There are not any differences among states within HRSA Region IV when examining the association of school engagement and detracting community elements. However, the study found that there is an association between school engagement and detracting community elements, overall. More research is needed to examine individual states to determine if there are differences at the state level.

Available for download on Friday, April 24, 2020

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