Male independent school students' perceptions of school climate and its relationship to achievement and minority status

Clinton Eugene Sims, Pace University

Abstract

School climate is influenced by many variables and a multidimensional approach is required for a thorough assessment. There has been steady progress reported in identifying the effects of school climate. Research from the 1960's through the 1990's has progressed from stating no relationship between school climate and academic outcomes to revealing a strong relationship between the two. Recent research has also shown that minority students do not view the school climate as favorably as do Caucasian students. ^ The current study utilized first term report card grades, the School Climate Survey, three open ended questions, and 152 male parochial students in fourth through eighth grade. Nine school climate variables were investigated: Fairness, Order and Discipline, Parental Involvement, Sharing of Resources, Student Interpersonal Relations, Student-Teacher Relations, Achievement Motivation, School Building, and the General School Climate. Additional variables included ethnic status, (i.e. Caucasian, Minority, and African-American), achievement level, and grade level.^ Results indicated that students felt that the appearance of the school building, student-teacher relations and fairness were the most positive aspects; students with grades of 85 and above generally had more positive perceptions of the school than did students with grades of 80 or below; and student interpersonal relationships and the general school climate were perceived as very positive aspects of the school's climate for the higher achieving students in all individual academic subjects. ^ Generally speaking, students from lower grades tended to have higher scores on all of the school climate variables than did students from the upper grades. Only the variable of Achievement Motivation demonstrated a significant ethnic difference, where Caucasian students reported higher Achievement Motivation than minority students who did not identify themselves as African-American. ^ Findings from the open-ended questions support the major findings from the survey. That is, for all three ethnic categories, from all grade levels, the appearance of the school building, student-teacher relationships, and fair treatment from school personal were frequently mentioned as the best thing about the school. For the students included in this survey, extracurricular activities was the most favorite aspect of the school throughout every grade level, and in all ethnic groups. In terms of interpersonal relationships, Caucasians primarily reported an emphasis on good peer relations while minorities focused more on their positive relationships with teachers. Nonetheless, various responses were offered to the open-ended questions, with no large number of students in agreement. ^ In the wake of multiple incidences school violence; students' perceptions of their school, their feelings of alienation, poor, relationships with teachers, and their feelings of academic hopelessness are extremely important to study and monitor. School psychologists can play a primary role in identifying, monitoring and improving upon these areas. ^

Subject Area

Black Studies|Education, Sociology of|Psychology, Social|Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Clinton Eugene Sims, "Male independent school students' perceptions of school climate and its relationship to achievement and minority status" (January 1, 1999). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI9950746.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI9950746

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