Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Kristen N. Missall

Abstract

The primary purpose of this study was to examine differences in the attributions teachers make toward students in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The study utilized vignettes and asked teachers to attribute the responsibility for declines in behavior and academic performance to one of five sources (the student, the parents, the teacher, the court system, or the student's friends). The study further asked teachers to identify the extent to which the changes were due to the student's internal traits and external factors, the likelihood of changes in behavior and academic performance with and without intervention, the teachers' beliefs about their ability to impact change, the amount of time the teachers reported being willing to spend with the students outside of class, and the likelihood of the student pursuing post-secondary education. Teachers were also asked to identify to whom they would first refer the student in the vignette for outside assistance due to declines in behavior and academic performance and then provide all referrals they would make.

A total of 224 certified 6th -12th grade teachers in the state of Iowa completed the vignette survey between January 2014 and April 2014. Results indicated that teachers made different attributions toward students on the basis of their involvement in either the child welfare or juvenile justice system. Specifically, teachers attributed the reason for behavioral and academic declines to different sources for students in the child welfare system, the juvenile justice system, and the control condition. Teachers were more likely to attribute academic and behavioral declines to internal factors for students in the juvenile justice system and external factors for students in the child welfare system. Teachers reported students in the juvenile justice system as least likely to change without intervention. The majority of teachers across the three conditions indicated their first referral would be to mental health services within the school. Teachers did not differ in the total number of referrals made, the amount of time until making the referral, the amount of time they would be willing to spend with the student outside of class time in order to impact change, their feelings of efficacy to impact change, and the likelihood of the student obtaining post-secondary education. Finally, limitations of the study are presented, suggestions for future research are discussed, and the implications of this study for teachers and school psychologists are discussed.

Public Abstract

Research supports the importance of the teacher-student relationship when considering long-term student outcomes. This vignette study sought to investigate components of the teacher-student relationship that may be different based on a teacher’s knowledge of their student’s involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice system. Specifically, this study looked for differences in the source of blame for declines in student behavior and academic performances, whether or not these declines were due to characteristics within the student or external to the student, and the type and number of referrals teachers would make for behavioral and academic declines. Additionally, this study investigated teacher reports of student likelihood to change with and without intervention.

Results indicated that teachers were more likely to attribute declines in student behavior and academic performance to the student in the juvenile justice system condition. Further, the student in the juvenile justice system condition was less likely than the student in the child welfare system to change without intervention. In the child welfare condition, parents were the most frequent source of blame for the behavioral and academic declines. The student in the child welfare condition was most likely to have declines attributed to factors outside the student themselves. There were no significant differences in the likelihood of obtaining post-secondary education among the three conditions. Finally, school mental health services were the most frequent first referral source for all three conditions.

Keywords

publicabstract, Child Welfare System, Juvenile Justice System, Teacher attributions, Teacher Expectations, Vignette Research

Pages

xii, 137 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 124-137).

Copyright

Copyright 2014 Stephanie Anthony

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