Date of Award

Spring 5-31-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly M. Lewis

Second Advisor

Dr. Gabriel Kuperminc

Third Advisor

Dr. Julia Perilla

Abstract

School connectedness, encompassing positive feelings toward teachers and peers and a sense of belonging at school, has been touted as a critical factor in promoting student achievement and reducing youth risk behaviors. The literature has been mixed in terms of understanding the relationship between race, racial congruence and school diversity’s influence on school connectedness, particularly for youth of color. The current study examines the effect of these variables on self reported feelings of school connectedness in a sample of 8,787 seventh grade students from 56 middle schools in one racially diverse school system. Multi-level modeling revealed that socioeconomic status and school racial diversity accounted for a significant portion of the variance in school connectedness. Controlling for these school level effects, race had a moderating effect on the relationship between racial congruence and school connectedness. Implications of these preliminary results on promoting school connectedness for youth of color are discussed.

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