Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Sarah Kiefer

Co-Major Professor

Shannon M. Suldo

Keywords

external resources, internal resources, mental health, social cognitive theory, stage-environment fit, transition

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the relations between support, academic self-efficacy, and stress during the transition into middle school. Research suggests that early adolescents experience an increase in stress across the middle school transition (e.g., Chung, et al., 1998), due to a mismatch between the individuals' developmental needs and the environment (Eccles et al., 1993). Stress has been found to be a risk factor for mental health disorders among adolescents (Grant et al., 2003). The current study examined if teacher and classmate support and academic self-efficacy served as external and internal resources for buffering stress by analyzing data from 142 young adolescents from an economically and racially diverse longitudinal sample. The current study examined: (a) the relations between support from teachers and classmates, academic self-efficacy, and stress; (b) patterns of change across the middle school transition; (c) the extent to which support from teachers and classmates is associated with stress in fifth and sixth grades; (d) the extent to which academic self-efficacy moderated the relation between support and stress, and (e) whether there were group differences (i.e., gender, race, and/or gender x race). Teacher support was negatively associated with perceived stress during sixth grade, while classmate support was a not significant correlate. There was not significant change over time in any of the key variables (i.e., teacher and classmate support, academic self-efficacy, and perceived stress). Regression results indicated that teacher and classmate support served different roles as academic self-efficacy moderated the relations between classroom support and perceived stress among fifth grade students. Teacher support was negatively related to perceived stress among sixth grade students. The only group difference found was that female sixth grade students reported higher levels of teacher support than male students did. Implications for school psychologists and future directions for research are also addressed.

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