School Contextual Factors and the Relationship to Behaviors of Middle School Students


Author/Creator ORCID




Department of Educational Professions


Doctor of Education, Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

Citation of Original Publication


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This descriptive study attempts to increase understanding of relationships between school contextual factors and the fostering of student prosocial development and reduced at risk behaviors among adolescent populations. Using an ethnographic design, the researcher gathered data from six rural public middle schools in Pennsylvania. Three schools with the greatest number of infractions and three with the fewest infractions per 100 eighth grade students represented both ends of the misconduct range and served as the study’s sample. Data were gathered through school site visits, primary documents, interviews of school personnel, and an on-line survey completed by each school faculty. All instruments were informed by subscale dimensions represented by the Alliance for the Study of School Climate (ASSC) School Climate Assessment Instrument (SCAI). Cross-case analysis revealed shared patterns of behavior, beliefs, and language of middle school administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers concerning factors contributing to their respective school climates. Contextual similarities and differences among school groupings were investigated through subscale dimensions of (a) faculty relations, (b) leadership and decision making, (c) discipline and management environment, and (d) attitude and culture. A paired-samples t-test of survey data revealed statistically significant mean differences for (a) leadership and decision making and (b) attitude and culture, with these variances being particularly evident after removing one school that emerged as an outlier. Data gathered from the study’s other instruments aligned with this school’s incongruous nature to all other schools of the sample.