Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

*Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Sarah Kiefer

Co-Major Professor

Kathy Bradley-Klug

Keywords

academic self-efficacy, social self-efficacy, student engagement, teacher support

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether students' perceptions of the classroom social environment mediate the relations between teacher self-efficacy and student adjustment.

Research suggests that early adolescents often experience decreases in engagement and motivation during the middle school years, which can put individuals at risk for academic failure and school dropout (Eccles, Lord, & Midgley, 1991). This occurs due to a mismatch between the individuals' developmental needs and the environment (Eccles et al., 1993). Whether early adolescents remain engaged in school is largely dependent on how they perceive the classroom environment promoted by their teacher (Erikson, 1950; Masten & Coatsworth, 1998; Roeser, Eccles & Sameroff, 2000). Additionally, the type of environment teachers promote is based on their assessments of their own teaching abilities (Ashton & Webb,1986; Guskey, 1988; Hall et al., 1992). Therefore, this study describes a model proposing that the classroom social environment (i.e., teacher support, teacher-promoted social interaction and mutual respect) mediates the relation between teacher self -efficacy and student adjustment (i.e., academic and social self-efficacy, classroom engagement, and disruptive behavior). This model was tested via single-level structural equation model with 358 middle school students from an economically and racially diverse sample. This study utilized a single data point from a larger, longitudinal quantitative study which examined student motivation and adjustment across the transition from elementary school into middle school. The study aimed to determine: (1). What is the impact of teacher self-efficacy on students' perception of the classroom social environment? (2).What is the impact of the classroom social environment on students' academic and social self- efficacy, involved behavior, and disruptive behavior? (3). To what extent does the classroom social environment mediate the relation between teacher self-efficacy and student adjustment (i.e., academic and social self efficacy and involved and disruptive behavior). Findings suggest that teacher self-efficacy had minimal impact on classroom social environment and student adjustment variables, and thus may not play a mediating role between these variables. However, findings did indicate a significant, moderate impact of the classroom social environment on student adjustment. This finding aligns with previous research which suggests when the classroom environment provides opportunities for students to develop their academic and social competencies, and when students feel cared for and supported, school adjustment is enhanced (Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998; Roeser et al., 2000). The overall impact of the classroom social environment on student adjustment in this study highlights the need for school psychologists to advocate for the development of middle school environments that meet early adolescents' developmental and basic needs.

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