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The relation between belonging and school misconduct: do teacher and peer attachment have the same effect?

Jannick Demanet UGent and Mieke Van Houtte UGent (2011) European Conference on Educational Research, Contributions.
abstract
A popular explanation of school misbehavior revolves around the schools-as-communities perspective (Battistich et al., 1995; Bryk & Driscoll, 1988), stating that feelings of belonging to a school community foster less school misconduct in students (Battistich et al., 1995; Battistich & Hom, 1997; Bryk & Driscoll, 1988). From this perspective, scholars usually state that making students feel attached to different actors at school impedes their school deviancy. Research in this tradition has mostly assumed that peer and teacher attachment impede school misconduct to a similar degree. This can be questioned. In stating that cohesive bonds to others prevents deviancy, the schools-as-communities perspective echoes insights from social control theory (Hirschi, 1969), a theoretical approach that, however, has failed to cope with deviant peer influence (Erickson, Crosnoe, & Dornbusch, 2000). Research shows, namely, that peers can cause each other to break the school rules, especially when their friendship cohesion is strong (Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003). Deviant peer influence has been explained by differential association theory (Sutherland & Cressey, 1978), which states that deviancy is learned from associating with others who favor misconduct as justifiable behavior. Learning occurs in social interaction, within intimate personal groups. As such, differential association theory is fundamentally different from early social control theory, but researchers from the schools-as-communities perspective have not yet come to incorporate the theory. The few studies that have differentiated between teachers and peers as sources of support find higher teacher support to advance achievement and impede health-risk behaviors, and higher peer support to increase chances of smoking and engaging in other health-risk behavior (Karcher & Finn, 2005; Klem & Connell, 2004; McNeely & Falci, 2004). Given these findings, it is plausible that peer and teacher attachment also relate differently to students’ deviancy. In the proposed study, we focus on school misconduct, a minor form of deviancy, consisting of rule-breaking behavior such as cheating on tests, skipping lessons, and arriving late at school. The study has three research questions. First, we want to test whether the effects of school cohesion are situated at the school level – and, hence, if intervention efforts to tackle school misconduct should strengthen the overall sense of community at school - or if the impediment of feelings of belongingness acts at the individual level – and hence, if intervention strategies should rather focus on individual students. Secondly, we test whether attachment to peers indeed holds a different relation to school misconduct than teacher support and general school belonging. Thirdly, we test whether these relations are affected by the social context of schools, as scholars expect levels of support to prevent school deviancy more effectively in disadvantaged schools (Battistich et al., 1995). As indicators of school disadvantage, we focus on the school SES and ethnic composition (Bankston & Caldas, 1996; Willms, 1992). * Methodology or Methods: The data were part of the Flemish Educational Assessment (FlEA), gathered in the 2004–2005 school year, consisting of 11,872 students in 85 Flemish secondary schools. Given the data at different levels – school cohesion, ethnic and SES composition are situated at the school level, school misconduct, peer and teacher attachment at the individual level – multilevel analysis is most appropriate. The determinants are entered stepwise in the model, to determine if mediating effects occur. In the first model, we investigate the role of school cohesion. We added this school variable first as this allowed us to determine eventual mediation effects. In the second model, we included peer attachment, to test whether the school effect of cohesion is maintained. In the third model, perceived teacher support and general school belonging were added to assess whether they hold different relations to school misconduct than peer attachment. In the fourth model, we added cross-level interactions between the bonding measures and SES- and ethnic composition. Throughout all models, we control for the school variables school size and ethnic and SES composition, and at the individual level, we control for SES, gender, grade, ethnicity, parental attachment, and attending a vocational track. * Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings In answer to our first research question, our results show that, in preventing school misconduct, individual bonding is more important than overall school cohesion. Hence, our results suggest that intervention efforts designed to improve a school’s cohesiveness will not affect school deviancy directly: intervention efforts should rather focus on individual students in promoting feelings of connection. As for our second research question, we find that, while school belonging and perceived teacher support impede school misconduct, greater peer attachment generates school misconduct. It is noteworthy, however, that the deviance-yielding effect of peer attachment only showed up when we controlled for general school belonging and perceived teacher support, meaning that both characteristics buffer the influence of peer attachment. Hence, for students perceiving to be supported by teachers, and feeling at home at school, less deviance can be expected. However, for students lacking such feelings, being attached to peers exacerbates school misconduct. Hence, our results point to the vital role of teachers in preventing school misconduct at school by giving all students equal support. Lastly, in answer to our third research question, we discovered no evidence for the claim that supportive relations should be even more inhibitive of deviancy in disadvantaged schools. * References: Bankston, C. & Caldas, S. J. (1996). Majority African American schools and social injustice: The influence of de facto segregation on academic achievement. Social Forces, 75, 535-555. Battistich, V. & Hom, A. (1997). The relationship between students' sense of their school as a community and their involvement in problem behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 1997-2001. Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Kim, D. I., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1995). Schools As Communities, Poverty Levels of Student Populations, and Students Attitudes, Motives, and Performance - A Multilevel Analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 32, 627-658. Bryk, R. & Driscoll, D. (1988). The high school as community: contextual influences and consequences for students and teachers. Madison: Center for Educational Research, University of Wisconsin. Erickson, K. G., Crosnoe, R., & Dornbusch, S. M. (2000). A social process model of adolescent deviance: Combining social control and differential association perspectives. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29, 395-425. Espelage, D. L., Holt, M. K., & Henkel, R. R. (2003). Examination of peer-group contextual effects on aggression during early adolescence. Child Development, 74, 205-220. Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press. Karcher, M. J. & Finn, L. (2005). How connectedness contributes to experimental smoking among rural youth: developmental and ecological analyses. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 26, 25-36. Klem, A. M. & Connell, J. P. (2004). Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of School Health, 74, 262-273. McNeely, C. & Falci, C. (2004). School connectedness and the transition into and out of health-risk behaviour among adolescents: A comparison of social belonging and teacher support. Journal of School Health, 74, 284-292. Sutherland, E. & Cressey, D. (1978). Criminology. Philadelphia: Lippincot. Willms, J. D. (1992). Monitoring school performance: a guide for educators. London: Falmer Press.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
in
European Conference on Educational Research, Contributions
publisher
European Educational Research Association (EERA)
conference name
European Conference on Educational Research 2010 (ECER 2010) : Education an cultural change
conference location
Berlin, Germany
conference start
2011-09-13
conference end
2011-09-16
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C3
id
1907652
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1907652
date created
2011-09-23 10:49:02
date last changed
2011-09-23 14:17:12
@inproceedings{1907652,
  abstract     = {A popular explanation of school misbehavior revolves around the schools-as-communities perspective (Battistich et al., 1995; Bryk \& Driscoll, 1988), stating that feelings of belonging to a school community foster less school misconduct in students (Battistich et al., 1995; Battistich \& Hom, 1997; Bryk \& Driscoll, 1988). From this perspective, scholars usually state that making students feel  attached to different actors at school impedes their school deviancy. Research in this tradition has mostly assumed that peer and teacher attachment impede school misconduct to a similar degree. This can be questioned. In stating that cohesive bonds to others prevents deviancy, the schools-as-communities perspective echoes insights from social control theory (Hirschi, 1969), a theoretical approach that, however,  has failed to cope with deviant peer influence (Erickson, Crosnoe, \& Dornbusch, 2000). Research shows, namely, that peers can cause each other to break the school rules, especially when their friendship cohesion is strong (Espelage, Holt, \& Henkel, 2003). Deviant peer influence has been explained by differential association theory (Sutherland \& Cressey, 1978), which states that deviancy is learned from associating with others who favor misconduct as justifiable behavior. Learning occurs in social interaction, within intimate personal groups. As such, differential association theory is fundamentally different from early social control theory, but researchers from the schools-as-communities perspective have not yet come to incorporate the theory. The few studies that have differentiated between teachers and peers as sources of support find higher teacher support to advance achievement and impede health-risk behaviors, and higher peer support to increase chances of smoking and engaging in other health-risk behavior (Karcher \& Finn, 2005; Klem \& Connell, 2004; McNeely \& Falci, 2004). Given these findings, it is plausible that peer and teacher attachment also relate differently to students{\textquoteright} deviancy. In the proposed study, we focus on school misconduct, a minor form of deviancy, consisting of rule-breaking behavior such as cheating on tests, skipping lessons, and arriving late at school. The study has three research questions. First, we want to test whether the effects of school cohesion are situated at the school level -- and, hence, if intervention efforts to tackle school misconduct should strengthen the overall sense of community at school - or if the impediment of feelings of belongingness acts at the individual level -- and hence, if intervention strategies should rather focus on individual students. Secondly, we test whether attachment to peers indeed holds a different relation to school misconduct than teacher support and general school belonging. Thirdly, we test whether these relations are affected by the social context of schools, as scholars expect levels of support to prevent school deviancy more effectively in disadvantaged schools (Battistich et al., 1995). As indicators of school disadvantage, we focus on the school SES and ethnic composition (Bankston \& Caldas, 1996; Willms, 1992). * Methodology or Methods: The data were part of the Flemish Educational Assessment (FlEA), gathered in the 2004--2005 school year, consisting of 11,872 students in 85 Flemish secondary schools. Given the data at different levels -- school cohesion, ethnic and SES composition are situated at the school level, school misconduct, peer and teacher attachment at the individual level -- multilevel analysis is most appropriate. The determinants are entered stepwise in the model, to determine if mediating effects occur. In the first model, we investigate the role of school cohesion. We added this school variable first as this allowed us to determine eventual mediation effects. In the second model, we included peer attachment, to test whether the school effect of cohesion is maintained. In the third model, perceived teacher support and general school belonging were added to assess whether they hold different relations to school misconduct than peer attachment. In the fourth model, we added cross-level interactions between the bonding measures and SES- and ethnic composition. Throughout all models, we control for the school variables school size and ethnic and SES composition, and at the individual level, we control for SES, gender, grade, ethnicity, parental attachment, and attending a vocational track. * Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings In answer to our first research question, our results show that, in preventing school misconduct, individual bonding is more important than overall school cohesion. Hence, our results suggest that intervention efforts designed to improve a school{\textquoteright}s cohesiveness will not affect school deviancy directly: intervention efforts should rather focus on individual students in promoting feelings of connection. As for our second research question, we find that, while school belonging and perceived teacher support impede school misconduct, greater peer attachment generates school misconduct. It is noteworthy, however, that the deviance-yielding effect of peer attachment only showed up when we controlled for general school belonging and perceived teacher support, meaning that both characteristics buffer the influence of peer attachment. Hence, for students perceiving to be supported by teachers, and feeling at home at school, less deviance can be expected. However, for students lacking such feelings, being attached to peers exacerbates school misconduct. Hence, our results point to the vital role of teachers in preventing school misconduct at school by giving all students equal support. Lastly, in answer to our third research question, we discovered no evidence for the claim that supportive relations should be even more inhibitive of deviancy in disadvantaged schools. * References: Bankston, C. \& Caldas, S. J. (1996). Majority African American schools and social injustice: The influence of de facto segregation on academic achievement. Social Forces, 75, 535-555. Battistich, V. \& Hom, A. (1997). The relationship between students' sense of their school as a community and their involvement in problem behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 1997-2001. Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Kim, D. I., Watson, M., \& Schaps, E. (1995). Schools As Communities, Poverty Levels of Student Populations, and Students Attitudes, Motives, and Performance - A Multilevel Analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 32, 627-658. Bryk, R. \& Driscoll, D. (1988). The high school as community: contextual influences and consequences for students and teachers. Madison: Center for Educational Research, University of Wisconsin. Erickson, K. G., Crosnoe, R., \& Dornbusch, S. M. (2000). A social process model of adolescent deviance: Combining social control and differential association perspectives. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29, 395-425. Espelage, D. L., Holt, M. K., \& Henkel, R. R. (2003). Examination of peer-group contextual effects on aggression during early adolescence. Child Development, 74, 205-220. Hirschi, T. (1969). Causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press. Karcher, M. J. \& Finn, L. (2005). How connectedness contributes to experimental smoking among rural youth: developmental and ecological analyses. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 26, 25-36. Klem, A. M. \& Connell, J. P. (2004). Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement. Journal of School Health, 74, 262-273. McNeely, C. \& Falci, C. (2004). School connectedness and the transition into and out of health-risk behaviour among adolescents: A comparison of social belonging and teacher support. Journal of School Health, 74, 284-292. Sutherland, E. \& Cressey, D. (1978). Criminology. Philadelphia: Lippincot. Willms, J. D. (1992). Monitoring school performance: a guide for educators. London: Falmer Press.},
  author       = {Demanet, Jannick and Van Houtte, Mieke},
  booktitle    = {European Conference on Educational Research, Contributions},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Berlin, Germany},
  publisher    = {European Educational Research Association (EERA)},
  title        = {The relation between belonging and school misconduct: do teacher and peer attachment have the same effect?},
  year         = {2011},
}

Chicago
Demanet, Jannick, and Mieke Van Houtte. 2011. “The Relation Between Belonging and School Misconduct: Do Teacher and Peer Attachment Have the Same Effect?” In European Conference on Educational Research, Contributions. European Educational Research Association (EERA).
APA
Demanet, J., & Van Houtte, M. (2011). The relation between belonging and school misconduct: do teacher and peer attachment have the same effect? European Conference on Educational Research, Contributions. Presented at the European Conference on Educational Research 2010 (ECER 2010) : Education an cultural change, European Educational Research Association (EERA).
Vancouver
1.
Demanet J, Van Houtte M. The relation between belonging and school misconduct: do teacher and peer attachment have the same effect? European Conference on Educational Research, Contributions. European Educational Research Association (EERA); 2011.
MLA
Demanet, Jannick, and Mieke Van Houtte. “The Relation Between Belonging and School Misconduct: Do Teacher and Peer Attachment Have the Same Effect?” European Conference on Educational Research, Contributions. European Educational Research Association (EERA), 2011. Print.