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Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

Tonya Perry

Gary Peters

Michelle Sims

Rosalyn Spivey

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2011

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

A MIXED METHODS INQUIRY INTO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BELONGINGNESS AND ACHIEVEMENT OF MIDDLE SCHOOL TRANSFER STUDENTS TAMALA R. MADDOX EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP ABSTRACT Student achievement is closely monitored and is believed to reflect how well a school is serving its student population therefore; it is incumbent upon schools to investigate a means of improving student achievement. As the number of students transferring to suburban school settings continues to increase, it has become increasingly important to determine how to assist these students in successfully transitioning into their new school environment. This study explored how sense of belonging affects achievement motiva-tion and academic achievement for 7th and 8th grade transfer students in affluent suburban middle schools in the Southeast. With the degree of difficulty that students of varying ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and achievement motivation are experiencing in adjusting to their new school, which tends to reflect the dominant culture of our society, a means of assisting these students in achieving academically is greatly needed. In the first, quantitative, phase of this mixed methods explanatory sequential design study, data from 168 participants was collected from six school sites in three school districts in the Southeast using two survey instruments and a participant demographic sheet. The researcher then identified significant statistical relationships using univariate regression analysis between the independent variables of sense of belonging, achievement motivation, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status with the dependent variable of academic achievement. Additionally, structural equation modeling, a multivariate analysis, was used in the first phase to allow the researcher to consider multiple variable combinations at the same time to determine the relationship between sense of belonging, achievement motivation and academic achievement and if achievement motivation was an intervening factor on sense of belonging and academic achievement. In the second, qualitative, phase, twelve purposefully selected students were in-terviewed. The themes which emerged from these interviews were “similarity to previous school ”, “involvement in new school ”, and “process of transition to new school ”. These themes were then used to help the researcher identify contextual factors that can have an impact on a transfer student's sense of belonging, achievement motivation and academic achievement. Keywords: achievement, belonging, middle school, goal orientation, achievement motivation, ethnicity

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