Teachers' perceived benefits and barriers to connecting students to school.
Abstract: School connectedness is a leading protective factor against youth engagement in risky behaviors. Ohio teachers (N = 419) completed a survey (60% response rate) examining benefits and barriers to positively connecting students to school. Results indicated that the leading benefits were increased school climate, student self-esteem and student involvement in positive behaviors. Conversely, barriers included lack of time, emphasis on state-mandated testing and academic achievement. Elementary school teachers felt there were fewer barriers to positively connecting students to school than did middle school teachers. Findings from this study may be beneficial to professionals interested in developing school connectedness training programs.
Article Type: Survey
Subject: Teachers (Health aspects)
Teachers (Training)
Authors: Vidourek, Rebecca A.
King, Keith A.
Nabors, Laura A.
Bernard, Amy L.
Murnan, Judy
Pub Date: 06/22/2012
Publication: Name: American Journal of Health Studies Publisher: American Journal of Health Studies Audience: Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 American Journal of Health Studies ISSN: 1090-0500
Issue: Date: Summer, 2012 Source Volume: 27 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 280 Personnel administration
Accession Number: 308741522
Full Text: INTRODUCTION

School connectedness has been identified as an important protective factor for youth. A sense of positive school connectedness, which is a feeling that one belongs or fits in at school, protects youth from engaging in risky health behaviors by providing youth with prosocial and empowerment opportunities (Hawkins & Catalano, 1990; Resnick, Bearman, Blum, et al., 1997; Simons-Morton, Crump, Haynie, & Saylor, 1999). Overall, youth who feel connected to and supported by their teachers, school staff and peers report feeling more efficacious in making healthy, informed decisions and displaying features of resiliency to potential life stressors (Resnick et al., 1997). Analyses from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (McNeely, Nonnemaker, & Blum, 2002) demonstrated that school connectedness is a leading protective factor in the school against youth involvement in depression, suicide, violence, substance use and risky sexual behaviors. Students who feel cared about by school staff and believe they fit in at school are more likely to choose healthy behaviors and less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

Several benefits to positively connecting students to school exist. Research indicates there is significant benefit to training students in social skills and problem solving (Cohen, 2007; Elias, Gara, & Ubriaco, 1985; Farrell, Valois, & Meyer, 2002). Students who possess these skills show less conflict, aggression, and violence than students who are not trained in these skills (Elias et al., 1985; Farrell et al., 2002). Teachers can emphasize constructive discipline, effective classroom management, and peaceful resolution of problems and tolerance which can decrease antisocial behaviors and increase school connectedness (Farrell et al., 2002). Despite such facts, studies have not examined teachers' perceived benefits to connection building.

Regarding barriers, while several factors may prevent teachers from engaging in connection-building strategies, no study has formally examined teachers' self-reported barriers. Research indicates that workload is increasing for teachers and, as a result, work overload, time pressures, and teacher burnout are increasing (Skalvik & Skaalvik, 2008; Hakanen, Bakker, & Schaufeli, 2006; Kokkinos, 2007; Peeters & Rutte, 2005; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). Such issues may decrease the likelihood of teachers using school connectedness techniques in the classroom. In addition, state-mandated tests may unexpectedly reduce the use of connection building strategies since they often require teachers to focus on specific topical areas (Madaus, 1988) that do not include social and emotional learning and connection-building Because of the high stakes outcomes of the state tests, many teachers and schools enhance the amount of time and effort devoted toward testing taking skills, practice tests, problem-solving skills, and timed quizzes, as a means to effectively prepare students for the state exam. Although these strategies may be important for students, they are not directly related to school connectedness and may reduce the frequency of connection-building strategies actually utilized by teachers.

A comprehensive review of the literature found no published study which examined elementary and middle school teachers' perceived benefits and barriers to positively connecting students to school. The purpose of the present study was to address such gaps in the research by examining Ohio elementary and middle school teachers' perceived benefits and barriers to positively connecting students to school. Specifically, the following research questions were examined: 1) What are the most common benefits that teachers report for using school connectedness strategies? 2) What are the most common barriers that teachers report for using school connectedness strategies? 3) Do perceived benefits and barriers differ based on use of school connectedness strategies, teacher factors, and school factors?

METHODS

PARTICIPANTS

The participants of the present study were current Ohio elementary and middle school teachers. A power analysis was conducted to determine the sample needed to obtain a representative teacher sample for this study. The power analysis was established with a power of .80, confidence interval of 5, and a confidence level of 95%. This analysis indicated that a sample size of 382 teachers was needed to result in a representative sample of elementary and middle school teachers for the state. A sample of teachers' names and email addresses was obtained from online school directories. All teachers were asked to voluntarily participate in the study. No incentives were offered to participants. Confidentiality and anonymity of all responses was ensured.

INSTRUMENTATION

A 4-page survey was developed to answer the research questions. To establish face validity, the survey was developed based on a comprehensive review of the professional literature, previous survey instruments, Bandura's self-efficacy model (1977) and individual discussions with elementary teachers, middle school teachers, school health researchers, and elementary/middle school students. To establish content validity, the survey was distributed to a panel of six experts: one middle school teacher, one elementary school teacher, two school health professionals, and two survey research experts. Each member of the panel was emailed a copy of the survey and instructed to complete the survey and offer comments and suggestions regarding the instrument and its potential effectiveness in addressing the research questions. The panel members were requested to return the survey via email so the instrument could be revised to reflect the suggestions offered by the panel of experts. Suggested revisions were discussed with the research team and those deemed appropriate were incorporated into the final instrument.

Overall, the survey consisted of the following sections. Section one assessed teachers' perceived frequency (N = 28) of using strategies to positively connect students to school and required teachers to check the appropriate box. Section two examined the number of perceived benefits (N = 12) of positively connecting students to school and required participants to check all that applied. Section three assessed the number of perceived barriers (N = 8) preventing teachers from positively connecting with students and required participants to check all that applied. Section four examined background items (N = 18) and included: previous training on school connectedness, administration encouragement, school-based committee to positively connect students to school, feelings of connectedness to students, and emotional climate of the school. Section five assessed teachers' demographics (N = 8) and requested teachers to check the appropriate box.

Stability reliability of the survey was established using test-retest procedures. To assess stability reliability, a convenience sample of 20 teachers completed the survey instrument on two separate occasions one week apart. Pearson correlation coefficients were computed to assess stability reliability for parametric items and yielded coefficients > .80. Kendall's tau-b correlation coefficients were calculated to determine test-retest reliability for nonparametric sections of the survey and yielded the following: .912 (Perceived Benefits) and .894 (Perceived Barriers). Cronbach alphas were computed to assess internal consistency reliability for each of the parametric subscales, resulting in alphas > .80.

PROCEDURES

Consent for study implementation was obtained from the university Institutional Review Board (IRB). After consent was granted, surveys were distributed to teachers in elementary and middle schools throughout the state of Ohio. In the spring term, each elementary and middle school teacher was emailed a research information sheet describing the purpose of the study and requesting participation. Participants were provided with a link to the electronic survey. Two weeks after the initial email, a second email message was sent to all teachers encouraging them to respond if they had not already done so and thanking them for their participation if they had responded. Another research information sheet was included along with the survey link. All responses were kept anonymous and confidential.

DATA ANALYSIS

All electronic data was converted into SPSS Version 17.0 and analyzed. Descriptive statistics including frequencies, means, standard deviations and ranges of scores were used to describe the demographic and background characteristics of the respondents. No potential interaction effects were found between demographic variables, therefore, covariates were not used in subsequent analyses. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed to determine if use of school connectedness strategies differed based on perceived benefits and barriers to positively connecting students to school. To conduct the MANOVA, the number of benefits and barriers were dichotomized into high and low levels based on median splits. When MANOVAs were found to be significant, then univariate F-tests were subsequently performed to identify the specific items in the subscale that were significant.

In addition, a series of analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to examine whether the number of perceived benefits and barriers differed based on demographic and background variables. In order to conduct these ANOVAs, certain variables were dichotomized. Grade level taught was dichotomized into two levels: Grades 1-3 and Grades 4-8. Importance of positively connecting students to school was dichotomized into two levels: strongly agree/agree and strongly disagree/disagree. Teachers' role was dichotomized into two levels: strongly agree/ agree and strongly disagree/disagree. Perceived emotional climate of the school was dichotomized into two levels: warm/positive climate and cold/negative climate. The number of benefits ranged from 0 to 13 while the barriers ranged from 0 to 11. Both were subsequently dichotomized into a high and low level. An alpha level of .05 was established for all data analyses. In addition, Bonferroni correction analyses were used to decrease Type I error.

RESULTS

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS

A total of 419 teachers out of 698 teachers (response rate = 60%) completed surveys. Of those who responded, 86.9% were female and 13.1% were male. Regarding grade level taught, 11.7% of participants taught 1st grade, 9.5% taught 2nd grade, 11.1% taught 3rd grade, 13.1% taught 4th grade, 11.7% taught 5th grade, 12.0% taught 6th grade, 11.1% taught 7th grade, and 19.8% taught 8th grade. The majority (59.7%) taught at a rural school, while 24.3% taught at an urban school and 16.1% taught at a suburban school. Two-thirds (67.2%) held a Masters Degree whereas one-fourth (23.8%) held a Bachelors Degree as their highest level of education. On average, participants reported teaching for 15.84 years (SD = 10.916) and teaching at their current school for 9.57 years (SD = 7.997).

TEACHER AND SCHOOL FACTORS IN POSITIVELY CONNECTING STUDENTS TO SCHOOL

Results indicated that virtually all teachers felt that they could make a positive difference in the lives of their students (99.2%), that they were enthusiastic when they taught (98.9%) and that they were positively connected to their students (97.0%). The overwhelming majority of teachers also felt that school climate and academic achievement were positively related (95.9%). Nine in ten (90.0%) teachers reported attending after-school activities for their students. Regarding training on school connectedness, half (50.0%) reported that they had received training outside of college on how to positively connect with students whereas one-third (36.0%) reported that they had received training on building positive connections during college. Two-thirds (65.4%) stated that they would like to learn more about how to develop positive connections with their students.

Concerning school-based factors, less than half (46.5%) reported that their school placed getting students positively connected as a leading school priority whereas one-third (35.4%) reported that their school had a school committee that dealt with getting students positively connected to school. Approximately one in four (28.6%) felt their school placed getting students connected with the community as a leading school priority. Nine in ten teachers (89.9%) felt that the emotional climate of their school as warm and positive or extremely warm and positive. One in ten (10.1%) reported the emotional climate of their school as cold and negative or extremely cold and negative.

BENEFITS OF POSITIVELY CONNECTING STUDENTS TO SCHOOL

The majority (87.6%) reported "creating a more positive school climate" as a benefit of connecting students to school (Table 1). Teachers also reported "increasing student self-esteem" (86.9%) and "increasing student involvement in positive behaviors" (86.6%) as benefits of positively connecting students to school. Less than half reported "decreasing student alcohol and other drug use" (42.5%) and "decreasing student suicide" (45.6%) as benefits of positively connecting students to school.

PERCEIVED BENEFITS BASED ON TEACHER AND SCHOOL FACTORS

ANOVAs revealed no difference in perceived benefits to positively connecting students to school based on sex and grade level taught (Table 1). Regarding additional teacher factors, results indicated that teachers with any previous training on school connectedness (M = 10.10, SD = 1.971) reported a significantly greater number of benefits to positively connecting students to school than did teachers with no previous training (M = 9.44, SD = 2.48), F(1, 367) = 7.975, p = .005. Teachers with low confidence in their use of strategies to connect students to school (M = 9.81, SD = 2.21) perceived significantly greater benefits than teachers with high confidence in their use of school connectedness strategies (M = 10.58, SD = 1.853), F(1, 365) = 9.326, p = .002. ANOVA results revealed no significant differences in number of benefits to positively connecting students among teachers at urban, suburban, and rural schools.

Results indicated that that teachers who strongly disagreed/disagreed that it was important to connect students to school (M = 10.69, SD = 1.802) perceived there to be significantly greater benefits to connecting students to school than did teachers who strongly agreed/agreed that it was important to connect students to school (M = 9.79, SD = 2.212), F(2, 369) = 5.562, p = .019 (Table 2). Teachers who strongly disagreed/disagreed that it was the role of the teacher to connect students to school (M = 10.58, SD = 1.853) perceived there to be a significantly greater number of benefits than teachers who strongly agreed/agreed that it was the role of the teacher to connect students to school, (M = 9.81, SD = 2.212), F(1, 365) = 4.278, p = .039.

BARRIERS TO POSITIVELY CONNECTING STUDENTS TO SCHOOL

The leading barriers to connecting students to school were "lack of time" "emphasis on increasing scores on the state proficiency test" (51.6%), "emphasis on academic achievement" (40.1%), "lack of parental involvement and support" (39.9%), and "lack of student interest" (21.0%) (Table 3). Teachers were least likely to report "lack of administrative support" (12.2%), "lack of knowledge on how to positively connect with students" (4.1%), "lack of confidence in my ability to connect with students" (1.4%), and "I believe it is not my role to positively connect with students" (0.5%) as barriers to positively connecting students to school.

PERCEIVED BARRIERS BASED ON TEACHER AND SCHOOL FACTORS

A series of ANOVAs were conducted to examine whether the number of barriers to positively connecting students differed based on several teacher and school factors (Table 4). Results indicated there were no significant differences in the number of perceived barriers based on sex, grades taught, perceived importance of connection building, perceived role of the teacher to build positive connections, previous training on school connectedness, administrator encouragement, whether teachers worked at a school with a school committee to build connections, school location, and perceived school climate.

However, teachers who worked at schools in which it was a school priority to positively connect students perceived significantly fewer barriers (M = 2.77, SD = 1.217) than teachers reporting it was not a school priority (M = 3.15, SD = 1.320), F(1, 319) = 6.684, p = .010. Teachers who felt positively connected to their students (M = 2.95, SD = 1.280) perceived significantly fewer barriers to connecting students than teachers who did not feel positively connected to their students (M = 3.90, SD = 1.197), F(1, 320) = 5.374, p = .021. In addition, teachers reporting high confidence in using school connectedness strategies (M = 2.73, SD = 1.177) perceived significantly fewer barriers than teachers reporting low confidence in using such strategies (M = 3.21, SD = 1.332), F(1, 320) = 11.564, p = .001.

USE OF SCHOOL CONNECTEDNESS STRATEGIES BASED ON BENEFITS AND BARRIERS

Benefits and barriers were dichotomized into high and low levels based on the median splits. MANOVA results indicated no significant differences in use of school connectedness strategies based on level of benefits or levels of barriers.

DISCUSSION

Teachers reported several benefits to positively connecting students to school. Most teachers cited "creating a positive school climate," "increasing student self-esteem," "increasing student involvement in positive behaviors," and "increasing academic achievement" as benefits. Research indicates a positive relationship between connecting students to school and academic achievement, educational motivation, classroom engagement and attendance rates (Battistich, & Hom, 1997; Catalano, Haggerty, Oesterle, Fleming, & Hawkins, 2004; Croninger & Lee, 2001; Goodenow, 1993; Lee, Smith, Perry, & Smylie, 1999; Voelkl, 1995). Furthermore, teachers tend to perceive connected students as paying closer attention in school, having a greater degree of focus on academics, having greater motivation, and scoring higher on tests and in overall academic subject areas.

In the present study, two-thirds of teachers cited decreasing student violence and depression as benefits of school connectedness. Less than half reported decreases in student suicide and alcohol and other drug use as benefits of positively connecting students to school. Somewhat surprisingly, teachers cited these risky health behaviors less than many other factors as benefits of positively connecting to school. School connectedness has been continually identified as a protective factor against youth engagement in risky behavior. In fact, the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health (Resnick et al., 1997) found school connectedness to be the leading school-based protective factor against risky behaviors including violence, alcohol and drug use, depression, and suicide. Educational programs and teacher trainings should be developed, which provide evidence to teachers on the important protective effects of positively connecting students to school.

Benefits of positively connecting students to school were associated with several school and teachers variables. Interestingly, teachers who strongly disagreed/disagreed that positively connecting students to school was important reported more benefits to connecting students to school than teachers who strongly agreed/agreed that connection-building was important. This is a surprising finding as importance of connectedness was hypothesized to be positively related to the number of benefits. It is possible that teachers' perceived importance of school connectedness and number of benefits of connecting students to school are not directly associated. It is also possible that a few specific benefits may be more predictive of importance than others. Future studies should seek to examine the benefits that have the largest predictive effect of benefits on perceived importance of positively connecting students to school.

Teachers who felt it was not the teachers' role to positively connect students to school also cited greater benefits to positively connecting students than teachers who felt it was their role to connect students. Although this is an interesting finding, teachers may feel that other factors contribute to school connectedness among students. As principals, counselors, school psychologists, food service workers, support staff among other school professionals play an essential role in connecting students to school, teachers may feel other professionals are in a more advantageous position to enhance school connectedness. Teachers may also believe other factors such as parents and community play a significant role in positively connecting students to school. The role of parents is recognized by education and health professionals in increasing school connectedness (Blum, McNeely, & Rinehart, 2002). Teachers who do not believe it is their role to positively connect students may believe parents are essential factors in positively connecting students to school.

Regarding barriers, teachers cited lack of time and state-mandated achievement testing as two barriers to positively connecting students to school. It is possible these two variables are interrelated as schools increasingly focus on achievement testing in daily school activities. Research indicates that teachers are facing increasing workloads, therefore, it is not surprising that lack of time was the number one barrier to positively connecting students to school. In fact, work overload, time pressures, and the resulting burnout are increasing among teachers (Skalvik & Skaalvik, 2008; Hakanen, Bakker, & Schaufeli, 2006; Kokkinos, 2007; Peeters & Rutte, 2005; Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004). Research indicates that teachers' work assignments have been increasing over the last few years (Hargreaves, 2003; Lindqvist & Norda'nger, 2006). Lack of time may be an important barrier to address in school connectedness efforts. Schools should regularly evaluate teachers' workload and, based on results, establish supports to improving workload and increasing quality teaching time in the classroom.

Madaus (1988) proposes that achievement testing requires teachers to teach according to the testing standards and professionals in control of testing thereby control the entire school curriculum. This theory lends credence to achievement testing as a potential barrier to positively connecting students to school. Other researchers propose that teachers, while they may not directly teach to the test, may tailor teaching towards the content of the test (LeMahieu, 1984; Koretz, 1995). Smith (1991) outlines specific classroom-based teaching behaviors that often result from mandated achievement testing. First, teachers may utilize ordinary curriculum with no special preparation. In this method, teachers are not directly addressing testing but teaching core subject areas regardless of achievement testing. Next, teachers may teach testing taking skills to prepare students. Practice tests, problem-solving skills, and timed tests are methods of preparing students for testing. However, these techniques are not associated with increases in school connectedness among students. Also, many teachers are strongly encouraged to cover content specifically presented on the test while also teaching test formatting and content. Familiarizing students with test formats are thought to improve students overall performance by increasing comfort at test time. All of these strategies may result in increased time/emphasis devoted to enhanced achievement scores and decreased time/ emphasis on social/emotional learning of students. Thus, school connectedness levels could, in turn, be low due to such practices.

Research has found a relationship between testing and teachers' decisions on classroom content (Firestone, Mayrowetz, & Fairman, 1998). Teachers' decisions were influenced by testing and material presented on such examinations. Corbett and Wilson (1991) speculated that mandated testing creates a myopic view of education for teachers in which activities aimed at increasing test scores take precedent over students needs. In this atmosphere, teachers tend to disregard students' social-emotional needs of students and often student psychological needs are not met in the classroom (Leffert, Benson, & Roehlkepartain, 1997). Similarly, building positive connectedness among students could be left behind as teachers focus on testing rather than creating positive relationships in the classroom. Teachers as well as other school personnel need concerted efforts to focus on connection-building while also concentrating on test preparation.

Teachers working in schools that placed connection-building as a leading priority perceived significantly fewer barriers to positively connecting students than did teachers at schools in which connection-building was not a leading priority. Based on this finding and those from previous research studies, schools should establish positively connecting students as a priority in the school (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009). Workshops and monthly meetings for teachers and hallway and classroom reminders for both students and teachers may institute connection-building as a school priority. Featuring school connectedness strategies or encouraging teachers to discuss positive relationship building are other methods that may establish connection-building as a priority.

The present study found teachers who were positively connected to their students perceived fewer barriers teachers who were not connected to their students. Evidence suggests teachers positively connecting with students is a powerful and important strategy in increasing student connectedness to school. Principals should encourage teachers to build a strong and positive relationship with their students as a means of increasing school connectedness.

LIMITATIONS

The present study was limited by the following: The sample comprised 1st through 8th grade teachers in the state of Ohio. Therefore, results may not be generalizeable to teachers in other grades or geographical locations. The monothematic nature the survey instrument may have provided a response-set bias with some participants. The self-reported format may have elicited socially desirable responses in some participants. The study sample was limited to teachers with valid email accounts. Teachers in this study demonstrated high numbers of benefits to positively connecting students to school and low numbers of barriers.

CONCLUSION

The present study aimed to identify teachers' perceived benefits and barriers to positively connecting students to school. Perceived benefits include increasing positive school climate, student self-esteem, and academic achievement whereas perceived barriers included lack of time and state-mandated achievement testing. Teachers' use of strategies to positively connect students to school was not related to perceived benefits and barriers. Confidence in using such strategies was negatively related to perceived barriers. Training teachers on school connectedness strategies may increase teacher confidence despite the presence of barriers. In addition, schools should examine potential barriers and actively encourage teachers to positively connect students to school.

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Rebecca A. Vidourek, PhD, CHES

Keith A. King, PhD, MCHES

Laura A. Nabors, PhD, ABPP

Amy L. Bernard, PhD, MCHES

Judy Murnan, PhD, MPH

Rebecca A. Vidourek, PhD, CHES, is an Assistant Professor at Health Promotion and Education, University of Cincinnati. Keith A. King, PhD, MCHES, is a Professor at Health Promotion and Education, University of Cincinnati. Laura A. Nabors, PhD, ABPP, is an Associate Professor at Counseling, University of Cincinnati. Amy L. Bernard, PhD, MCHES, is an Associate Professor at Health Promotion and Education, University of Cincinnati. Judy Murnan, PhD, MPH, is a Health Education Specialist at Office of Wellness and Health Promotion, West Virginia University. Please send all correspondence to Dr. Rebecca A. Vidourek, Assistant Professor, Health Promotion and Education Program, University of Cincinnati, PO Box 210068, ML 0068, 526 TC, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0068, Email: rebecca.vidourek@uc.edu
Table 1. Perceived Benefits of Positively
Connecting Students to School

Item                             n     %

Create a more positive school   367   87.6
  climate
Increase student self-esteem    364   86.9
Increase student involvement    363   86.6
  in positive behaviors
Increase academic achievement   355   84.7
Improve student-to-teacher      354   84.5
  interactions
Improve student-to-student      336   80.2
  interactions
Decrease student bullying       330   78.8
Increase student perceived      300   71.6
  safety at school
Decrease student violence       283   67.5
Decrease student depression     274   65.4
Decrease student suicide        191   45.6
Decrease student alcohol        178   42.5
  and other drug use
Other benefit                    0    0.0

N = 419
Missing values excluded from
  analyses.

Table 2. Perceived Benefits Based on Teacher and School Factors

Item                                   Number of Perceived
                                            Benefits

                                    M (SD)         F      p

Sex

  Male                           9.91 (2.314)    .029    .865
  Female                         9.85 (2.184)

Grade level taught

  Grades 1-3                     9.77 (2.135)    .692    .406
  Grades 4-8                     9.97 (2.139)

It is important to positively
connect students to school.

  Strongly Agree/Agree           9.79 (2.212)    5.562   .019
  Strongly Disagree/Disagree     10.69 (1.801)

It is a role of the teacher to
positively connect students to
school.

  Strongly Agree/Agree           9.81 (2.216)    4.278   .039
  Strongly Disagree/Disagree     10.58 (1.853)

Have you ever received any
previous training on school
connectedness?

  Yes                            10.10 (1.971)   7.795   .005
  No                             9.44 (2.478)

Have you received training
after college on school
connectedness?

  Yes                            10.05 (2.008)   3.117   .078
  No                             9.65 (2.350)

Do you feel positively
connected to your students?

  Yes                            9.88 (2.172)    2.136   .145
  No                             8.90 (2.700)

Do you feel your school
places connection building
as a leading priority?

  Yes                            10.01 (2.088)   1.941   .167
  No                             9.70 (2.273)

Does your school have a
committee that deals with
positively connecting
students to school?

  Yes                            10.01 (1.980)   1.031   .311
  No                             9.77 (2.300)

Does your school administrator
encourage you to positively
connect students to school?

  Yes                            9.89 (2.150)    .300    .584
  No                             9.75 (2.300)

How would you describe the
emotional climate of your
school?

  Warm/Extremely Warm            9.91 (2.122)    1.440   .231
  Cold/Extremely Cold            9.45 (2.703)

N = 419
Missing values excluded from
analyses.

Table 3. Barriers to Positively Connecting Students
to School

Item                                   n     %

Lack of time                          256   61.1
Emphasis on increasing scores on      216   51.6
  the state proficiency test
Emphasis on academic achievement      168   40.1
Lack of parental involvement and      167   39.9
  support
Lack of student interest              88    21.0
Lack of administrative support        51    12.2
Lack of knowledge on how to           17    4.1
  positively connect with students
Lack of confidence in my ability to    6    1.4
  connect with students
I believe it is not my role to         2    0.5
  positively connect with students
Other barrier                          0    0.0

N=419
Missing values excluded from analyses.

Table 4. Perceived Barriers Based on Teacher and School Factors

                                Number of Perceived Benefits

Item                              M (SD)        F      p

Sex

  Male                         3.20 (1.188)   1.334   .249
  Female                       2.95 (1.303)

Grade level taught

  Grades 1 - 3                 2.86 (1.233)   1.465   .227
  Grades 4 - 8                 3.05 (1.312)

It is important to
positively connect
students to school.

  Strongly Agree/Agree         2.99 (1.290)   .006    .939
  Strongly Disagree/Disagree   2.97 (1.197)

It is a role of the teacher
to positively connect
students to school.

  Strongly Agree/Agree         2.96 (1.299)   .174    .677
  Strongly Disagree/Disagree   3.06 (1.223)

Have you ever received any
previous training on school
connectedness?

  Yes                          2.94 (1.243)   .466    .495
  No                           3.04 (1.357)

Have you received training
after college on school
connectedness?

  Yes                          2.94 (1.243)   .466    .495
  No                           3.04 (1.357)

Do you feel positively
connected to
your students?

  Yes                          2.95 (1.280)   5.374   .021
  No                           3.90 (1.197)

Do you feel your school
places connection building
as a leading
 priority?

  Yes                          2.77 (1.217)   6.684   .010
  No                           3.15 (1.320)

Does your school have a
committee that deals with
positively connecting
students to school?

  Yes                          2.88 (1.190)   1.066   .303
  No                           3.03 (1.337)

Does your school
administrator encourage
you to positively
connect students to
school?

  Yes                          2.90 (1.218)   3.179   .076
  No                           3.18 (1.422)

How would you describe the
emotional climate of your
school?

  Warm/Extremely Warm          2.94 (1.262)   2.711   .101
  Cold/Extremely Cold          3.32 (1.451)

N=419
Missing values excluded
from analyses.
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