Award Date

5-1-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Christopher Kearney

Second Committee Member

Laurel Pritchard

Third Committee Member

David Copeland

Fourth Committee Member

Lori Olafson

Number of Pages

156

Abstract

School refusal behavior has become highly problematic for schools worldwide. Researchers have focused efforts on examining many factors related to absenteeism, including child, parent, family, peer, school, and community variables. Many previous researchers examined absenteeism between groups (i.e. truants vs. nontruants, truants vs. school refusers). The present study investigated percentage of absenteeism in relation to contextual variables in a diverse sample of truants referred to programs designed to improve attendance. First, a model of school climate (Sharing of Resources, Order and Discipline, Parent Involvement, Student Interpersonal Relations, and Student-Teacher Relations) contributing to severity of absenteeism was tested via structural equation modeling (SEM). This model was next examined across gender, age, amount of absenteeism, and ethnicity. Second, function of school refusal behavior was examined as a potential mediator variable within the model. Third, models of school climate contributing to self-reported psychological symptoms (anxiety and depression) were examined. Fourth, models of school climate contributing to parent-reported youth psychological symptoms (somatic symptoms, attention and cognitive problems, and oppositional behavior) were examined.

The original model of school climate contributing to severity of absenteeism met goodness-of-fit criteria. The original model did not meet goodness-of-fit criteria for males or females. The original model met goodness-of-fit criteria for older (age 14-19 years) but not for younger (age 11-13 years) youth. The original model met goodness-of-fit criteria for youth with less absenteeism (< 43%) and youth with higher absenteeism (>43%). The original model did not meet goodness-of-fit criteria for Hispanic or non-Hispanic youth. Function of school refusal behavior mediated the relationship between school climate and severity of absenteeism. Models of school climate contributing to self-reported anxiety and depression both met goodness-of-fit criteria. The model of school climate contributing to anxiety and the model of school climate contributing to depression both met goodness-of-fit criteria for males but not for females. The model of school climate contributing to parent-reported youth somatic symptoms did not meet goodness-of-fit criteria. The model of school climate contributing to parent-reported youth attention and cognitive problems did not meet goodness-of-fit criteria. The model of school climate contributing to parent-reported youth oppositional behavior did not meet goodness-of-fit criteria. This model was investigated on an exploratory basis by gender. The model met goodness-of-fit criteria for males but not for females. Results are discussed along with implications for assessment, treatment and future research.

Keywords

Intervention; Psychopathology; School attendance--Psychological aspects; School children—Psychology; School environment; School phobia; School psychology

Disciplines

Psychology

Language

English


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Psychology Commons

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