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Factors which contribute to eighth grade students’ feelings of mattering in private schools Kifiak, Darleen M. 1996

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FACTORS WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO EIGHTH GRADE STUDENTS* FEELINGS OF MATTERING IN PRIVATE SCHOOLS by DARLEEN M. KIFIAK M.Ed., Seattle Pacific University, 1992 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGY We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA © Darleen M. Kifiak, 1996 { In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Cou^s-e^UU^ ^ y ^ J v J a ^ y The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date &*f± IIHC DE-6 (2/88) 11 ABSTRACT This study examined eighth grade students' perceived degree of mattering in their private school environments. Mattering, as defined by Rosenberg and McCullough (1981), is a person's sense that he is the object of interest and importance to others, he is wanted or serves as an ego-extension for others, and others depend on him. The study included 167 students from three urban private schools in the lower mainland. Students completed The Ways of Mattering Questionnaire (Individual and Group Forms), and a one page questionnaire, providing information about students' academic self-concept (Bachman's scale), student involvement in extracurricular school activities, and selected demographic variables. Step-wise multiple regression revealed that gender and grade point average were statistically significant predictive variables on the Group Mattering Scale in student to teacher relationships, and only grade point average was a significant predictive variable on the Individual Mattering Scale (student to peer relationships). Recommendations are provided for further study into students' feelings of mattering in the school environment. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii LIST OF TABLES . v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vi Chapter Rage I INTRODUCTION 1 Purpose of the Study 4 Definitions 5 Research Question 6 Scope of the Study 7 Limitations and Delimitations 7 Organization of the Study 8 II LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction 10 Mattering 10 Self-Esteem 13 Academic Self-Esteem 14 Academic Achievement 15 Extracurricular Involvement 16 School Relationships 17 School Structure 19 III METHODOLOGY Research Design 21 Population and Participants 21 Ways of Mattering Questionnaire 22 School Questionnaire Form 24 Procedure and Data Collection 25 Scoring the Instruments 27 IV SUMMARY OF RESULTS Descriptive Statistics 29 Correlational and Regression Analyses 32 Discussion with Participants 36 V CONCLUSION : 39 Summary of Findings 40 Implications for Counsellors 41 Suggestions for Further Research 42 REFERENCES ....44 APPENDICES Appendix A - Letter to Administrators 49 Appendix B - Consent Form 51 Appendix C - Follow-Up Consent Form 53 Appendix D - Ways of Mattering Questionnaire - Group Form (Peers) 54 Appendix E - Ways of Mattering Questionnaire - Individual Form (Teachers) .... 56 Appendix F - School Questionnaire Form 58 Appendix G - Instructions to Participants 59 Appendix H - Scoring Guide • 61 Appendix I - Reported Results in School Newsletters 63 V LIST OF TABLES Page Table 1. Mark Conversion Chart 27 Table 2. Frequency and Percentage of Selected Variables 30 Table 3. Means and Standard Deviations of Selected Variables 30 Table 4. Individual (Teachers) Mattering Descriptive Analysis & Alpha Scores .... 31 Table 5. Group (Peers) Mattering Descriptive Analysis & Alpha Scores 31 Table 6. Correlation Analysis of Individual Mattering and Selected Predictive Variables 32 Table 7. Summary of Stepwise Regression Analysis for Individual (Teachers) Mattering in Grade 8 Students 33 Table 8. Correlation Analysis of Group Mattering and Selected Predictive Variables 34 Table 9. Summary of Stepwise Regression Analysis for Group (Peers) Mattering in Grade 8 Students 35 Table 10. Summary of Stepwise Regression Analysis for Females on Individual (Core Teachers) Mattering in Grade 8 Students 36 vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to express my sincere thanks to the members of my committee, Dr. Norm Amundson, Dr. Robert Chester and Dr. Marv Westwood. Their encouragement and support in the completion of this project was greatly appreciated. The assistance I received in the analysis of the data from Dr. Arleigh Reichl was also very helpful. I am indebted to the students, teachers and administrators of the cooperating schools for their willingness to be involved in this study. Their participation has enlighten my understanding and made this research possible. Finally, my warmest appreciation is extended to my friends at L.C.S. who stood beside me as I juggled the demands of teaching and my studies. To all of you—thank you! Your support has meant more to me than you may even know! 1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Numerous studies of high school students have highlighted students' attitudes towards school and towards teachers. When William Kvaraceus examined the American high school in 1958, he noted that students were frequently being shifted every fifty minutes from teacher to teacher. He claimed that students belonged to no one, and even in homeroom period the students experienced feelings of "rootlessness" and "impersonality" (Hahn & Bidna, 1970, p. 41). In a Stanford University study on secondary school teachers (Phelan, Davidson, & Cao, 1992), students indicated that they wanted teachers to recognize who they were, they wanted to be listened to when they had something to say, and they wanted to be respected for their efforts. Finn (1989) in his review of the literature on how schools were failing at-risk students concluded that schools needed to foster both student identification and an active participation in school life if students were to remain in school and be successful. Researchers repeatedly are reporting that students want to be acknowledged as worthwhile individuals while they are at school. Susan Stinson (1993) conducted personal interviews with 36 high school students in North Carolina to examine how these students made sense of their experience. She summarized her findings by stating: "Clearly students expect caring in their relationships with peers and faculty at school, even though their expectations are frequently not met, especially with regard to teacher-student relationships" 2 (p. 233). One participant said, "When you start to know everybody you're in an atmosphere where you feel safe—and secure" (p. 225). Gregory (1995) conducted open-ended interviews with 66 high school students who were "at-risk" in three high schools in New York City. One participant commented on how difficult the transition to high school had been. I felt lost, just lost. You feel like you don't belong, no one cared, you know, just another regular person lost in the crowd. I went to classes for about a month, but I felt uncomfortable—I didn't know anyone really. So I started staying outside, and then I met other people doing the same, and we started hanging out.... Everyone was surprised because I had been a good student before, (p. 145) This student had a 93.6 average—she was a high academic achiever—but she was eventually thrown out of school because she was truant so often. She found a way to meet her relational need, but unfortunately, it was outside the classroom doors. The success stories in Gregory's (1995) research were those students who had an adult who had singled them out and taken an interest in them, or those students who had positive peer relationships. Gregory believed that youth would stay in school, if they had their social needs met. Bibby and Posterski (1992) surveyed 3,500 Canadian teens. They found that only one-third of high school students were having a positive experience. Another one-third were having an average experience and the last third were prime suspects for dropping out. Bibby and Posterski (1992) beckoned for the education profession to "humanize" their organizations: 3 Educational institutions, with their sanitized hallways and desks in straight rows, desperately need to be humanized. They need to be personalized. And the potential for warming up those cold and sterile places rests squarely on the shoulders of the educators, who day after day and month after month share life with their students. Specifically, teachers are the humanizers, the personalizers. But unless they are more than just human photocopiers churning out curriculum content, they will keep on depositing their monthly cheques but will miss the big fringe benefits of their profession. They will miss the human interaction, the personal touch between themselves and the learners in their lives (p. 240-241). Clearly a similar theme emerges: students want to feel important and be recognized as individuals while they are at school. Students want teachers and peers to notice who they are and appreciate their individuality. The concept of "caring" has emerged in the school reform movement. Nel Noddings (1985; 1995a; 1995b) has challenged schools to become "caring communities". Noddings and others (Rapwid, 1993; Lipsitz, 1995; Chaskin & Rauner, 1995; Noblit, Rogers, & McCadden, 1995; Bosworth, 1995) recognize that everything that happens in schools is relational. Who is hired, how teachers teach, how staff encourage or discourage group work and peer interactions, and how the school environment is organized are all factors which effect the individuals who are part of the institution (Lipsitz, 1995, p. 666). Researchers who are part of the Lilly Endowment Program at the University of Chicago have been researching "caring" for the past five years. In studying successful schools and after-school programs they found that a key ingredient identified by both students and staff was a sense 4 of caring. The researchers believed that caring responds to a set of basic psychosocial needs which all humans have. These needs include the "needs for independence and connection, for belonging and membership, for safety and support, and for individual and social competency" (Chaskin & Rauner, 1995, p. 672). Phillips and Benner (1994) contend that caring is being lost in an ever increasing individualistic society that values technological efficiency over personal involvement. Rosenberg and McCullough (1981) labelled the concept that described an individual's feeling of being cared for as "mattering". Rosenberg and McCullough (1981) understood mattering to be a student's sense that "as far as other people are concerned, he is an object of interest and importance, that he is wanted or serves as an ego-extension, or that others depend on him" (p. 179). These researchers found that adolescents who felt they mattered very little to their parents had lower self-esteem, were more depressed and unhappy, more anxious, and more likely to be delinquent, than students who felt they did matter to their parents. These researchers also suggested that human beings cannot be happy and feel fulfilled without other people needing them. People need to feel significant. They want to know that they matter, and that they make a difference to someone they have contact Purpose of the Study • This study will investigate adolescents' perceptions of their significance in their private school environments. Specifically, do Grade 8 students feel they "matter", and what factors contribute to their feelings of "mattering"? This study will involve investigation of with. 5 factors which contribute to feelings of mattering in peer and teacher relationships. The specific factors which will be considered are: self-concept of academic abilities, academic achievement, involvement in extracurricular school activities, and demographic variables. It is hypothesised that students who feel they "matter" at school will have a positive relationship with their teachers, will do better academically, will have a higher self-concept of their academic ability, and will be involved in extracurricular school activities. Friedenberg (1965) said, "What is learned in high school, or for that matter anywhere at all, depends far less on what is taught than on what one actually experiences in the place." (p. 89). In his book Society and the Adolescent Self-image (1965) Rosenberg said that as human beings we want to care and to be cared for (p. 7). Sergiovanni (1994) said: Students are not fussy about where they get their needs met. If the classroom is not the place then the school corridors will do. If the school is not the place, then the gang, the after-school job, or some other setting will be the place (p. 127). Glasser (1986) believed that everyone searches for ways to satisfy their basic needs of loving, belonging, caring and sharing. He said, "if a student feels no sense of belonging in school, no sense of being involved in caring and concern, that child will pay little attention to academic subjects" (p. 70). This study will examine whether or not Grade 8 students feel they matter at school and what variables are predictive of mattering. Definitions As stated earlier, for the purposes of this study mattering will be defined as the student's sense that he is an object of interest and importance, he is wanted or serves as an 6 ego-extension, or that others depend on him (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1979, p. 179). Academic self-concept of ability will be defined as the students' perception of themselves as students and of their ability to learn in school (Mboya, 1993). Academic achievement will be measured by calculating the grade point average (G.P.A.) score from the participants' letter grades in all subjects on their most recent report cards. Extracurricular school involvement will be defined as any activities that are not normally part of the school program in which participation by the student is optional. Grade 8 peers will be the homeroom class the student is a part of for academic subjects. Core teachers will be the Humanities and the Math/Science teacher in each school that the student has with his/her homeroom class for instruction in these subject areas. Private schools are schools which are under the Federation of Independent Schools Association (FISA) of British Columbia. Rfi^ e^ rch_Questioji The research question this study will address is: What is the relationship between Grade 8 private school students' feelings of mattering and their academic performance, self-concept of academic abilities, and involvement in extracurricular activities? It is theorized that mattering is influenced by multiple variables. Therefore step-wise multiple regression analysis will be used to determine which of the selected variables are predictive of eighth grade students' feelings of mattering at school. This study will be limited in scope to Grade 8 students, rather than including all high school students. It will also only involve students from three specifically selected private schools. The study will encourage all students within the identified Grade 8 classes to participate, though it is recognized that not all students will choose to participate. The questionnaire will ask the students to use a specific reference group for their peers (eg. their homeroom class) and their teachers (eg. "core teachers" — which includes a mathematics and science teacher, and a humanities teacher). Limitations and Delimitations The participants in the study are from a select group within the population — middle-to upper-class, predominantly white families in the lower mainland area of British Columbia, who have chosen to have their adolescents educated in a private, rather than a public, system of education. The study does not consider the findings for a diverse ethnic population, and thus this will limit the interpretation of the data and the generalizability of the results. The study will not address the differences in school structures between the participating schools (eg. middle school philosophy vs. high school philosophy). Due to ethical considerations, the study will not analyze the results on a class/teacher basis or attempt to draw comparisons between the schools, although studies such as Benninga, Guskey and Thornburg's (1981) and Eccles, Wigfield, Reuman, Maclver, and Feldlaufer 8 (1993) point out that teachers' attitudes and behaviours have an effect on class climate and possibly on student learning. The study will be delimited to examine only students' perception of mattering at school and in their relationship with their peers and core teachers, though it has been documented in studies such as Whiting (1982) that parental mattering is a significant factor in how students view themselves. The study will not consider the friendship groups students are a part of outside of school or how they feel they "matter" in settings, other than the school setting. The study will be limited to the selected variables of self-concept of academic ability, academic achievement, involvement in extra-curricular activities, age, and gender, though it is realized that there are many other variables which may have an effect upon a student's feelings of mattering at school. Qjrjgani^ tiojijaLtlie Study An introduction to the topic has been presented in Chapter 1, along with definitions of the key concepts, statement of the research question, scope and limitations of the study. Chapter 2 presents a review of the literature on the key constructs involved of this research, which include: mattering, academic self-esteem, academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and school relationships. The research methodology used for data collection, is described in Chapter 3. Also provided is information about the instruments to be used and a summary of how the data will be analyzed. 9 The fourth chapter provides both descriptive statistical analysis and correlational analyses of the data realized in this study. Some information from discussions with the participants is also included. Chapter 5 contains the conclusions drawn from the data. As well, the implications of this study for counsellors and suggestions for further research are examined. The appendices include samples of the letters of consent for administrators, students and parents; copies of the instruments used in the study; instructions to participants; scoring information; and, a summary of the results shared with parents. 10 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW Intrndiiction This review of the literature will provide the reader with a framework for the key concept of mattering which underlies this research. Then the specific constructs of self-concept, academic self-concept, academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and school relationships will be examined. Kaplan (1986) theorized that a person's self-concept and self-attitude were outcomes of the social relationships and processes in the person's interpersonal network. This agreed with Rosenberg's (1979) principle of reflected appraisal which suggested that people were influenced by the evaluation or judgments of significant others about them. While in school, students internalize the responses they receive and evaluate themselves based on these experiences. Students' feelings, actions, and attitudes are shaped by the various perceptions they gain of themselves through interactions with others. Ames (1978) stated that how students feel about themselves and the beliefs they hold about their abilities may be expected to influence both their behaviour and their interactions with their teachers and peers while at school. Mattering Rosenberg and McCullough (1981) were the first to operational ize the construct of mattering. They defined mattering as "the feeling that others depend on us, are interested in 11 us, are concerned with our fate, or experience us as an ego-extension" (p. 179). The three core elements they identified were: (1) Attention - feeling that you command the interest or notice of another person; (2) Importance - feeling that you are important to the other person or are an object of his concern; and, (3) Dependence - others depend on you and count on your involvement. Rosenberg and McCullough (1981) used theoretical replication to test their construct. Four large studies were used as the source for their data—(a) 1678 junior and senior students in ten high schools in New York State (1960; Rosenberg, 1965); (b) 679 juniors and seniors in 13 high schools in Baltimore (1968; Rosenberg & Simmons, 1972); (c) 1998 high school students in two schools in East Chicago (1966; Dager, 1968); and (d) a nationwide sample of 2213 tenth-grade boys in 87 high schools (1966; Bachman, 1970). All four studies used similar, but not identical, measures of self-esteem. All of the studies showed a significant positive relationship between adolescents' feelings of mattering to their parents and global feelings of self-worth. The researchers ascertained that it did not matter whether the parents' attitudes were positive or negative towards the adolescent. Rosenberg and McCullough also suggested that adolescents who felt they mattered little to their parents, were more likely to be depressed, anxious or disturbed. Whiting (1982), a doctoral student of Rosenberg's, extended his work by examining whether other individuals in an adolescent's world, beside the adolescent's parents, affected the adolescent's feelings of mattering. Her study utilized data from the Youth in Transition nationwide study of 2213 tenth-grade boys (Bachman, 1969). She found that students who felt they mattered tended to have higher self-esteem, higher self-concept of school ability, 12 and to be less depressed and rebellious in school. Mattering to parents was the strongest predictor of global mattering. However, mattering to teachers showed a significantly stronger impact, than parental mattering, on the students' self-concept of school ability. Schlossberg (1989) suggested that people in transitions often felt "marginal"—that they did not matter. She took Rosenberg's work and developed a scale to be used with adults in college settings. Schlossberg, Lynch and Chickering's (1989) scale classified mattering into five major components (p. 22): 1. Attention: feeling that you command interest or notice from another. 2. Impoxtance: feeling that you are the object of a person's concern, that they care what you want, think and do. 3. Dependence: others depend on you. 4. Ego e^xtension: others are proud of your accomplishments and disappointed with your failures. 5. Appreciation: others are thankful for what you are and what you do. Schlossberg (1989) found that people need to feel that they count, belong and matter. When people have these feelings they no longer feel marginal, or "out of it" (p. 11). She contended that the creation of educational environments which clearly indicated to all students that they mattered would encourage greater student involvement and satisfaction. Amundson (1993a) applied the concept of mattering to the unemployed population. He suggested that involvement in mattering experiences helped individuals achieve their basic needs for relationships and meaning, whereas "non-mattering" experiences, such as job loss, resulted in feelings of despair, disillusionment, and anger. Amundson (1993b) 13 developed the Ways of Mattering Questionnaire. The instrument has four subscales which measure degrees of mattering in four areas: attention, importance, dependence and ego-extension. Norton (1995) used the W^yjsjo£Maliejing_Q_ue&iiQ^ (Individual and Group Forms) to consider whether students in alternative school programs in Vancouver felt they mattered and were having their needs met. He found a strong positive correlation between mattering and the meeting of student needs in alternative schools. Cronbach alpha reliability estimates on a school population sample of 126 students, were between .72 and .90. A moderately strong positive correlation was found between scores on the Statements Ahout ScJjJioJLJjiv^t£uy_Scale and the Ways of Mattering Questionnaire (.42 to .62). Norton's study confirmed a linkage between mattering and the fulfillment of social needs by adults and peers who were part of the alternative schools studied. SelfzE&teem Dr. Morris Rosenberg has been working at identifying the key elements of self-concept and self-esteem for the past three decades. In his early work (1965) he defined high self-esteem as the feeling one has that one is "good enough" (p. 31). Rosenberg believed that students who had high self-esteem would be students who were not content to stay where they were-they would "want to grow, to improve, to overcome their deficiencies" (p. 31). Rosenberg defined low self-esteem as "self-rejection, self-dissatisfaction, self-contempt" (p. 31). An individual with low self-esteem wishes his "self-picture" were different and is not satisfied with what he observes in himself. Ames (1978) believed that a 14 person's self-picture was constructed by the social perceptions one received from his environment and the resulting attribution and self-evaluation one gives to those experiences. Similarly, Shavelson, Hubner and Stanton (1976) viewed self-concept as a person's self-perception, formed through experiences with and interpretations of one's environment. In Rosenberg's later work, he began to separate self-esteem into two categories: global self-esteem and specific self-esteem. He defined global self-esteem as "the individual's positive or negative attitude toward the self as a totality" (Rosenberg, Schoenbach, Schooler, & Rosenberg, 1995, p. 141). He believed specific self-esteem was related to a particular behaviour and a person's attitudes toward specific facets of that object. Currently in the literature it is common practice to define the distinct aspect of self-esteem which is involved in the research project, though there continues to be debate about the exact nature of the relationship between general and specific self-concept (Liu, Kaplan, & Risser, 1992; Marsh, 1993). AcadejrjiLS.elizEste£m Many researchers are using terms like "self-concept of academic ability" to identify self-esteem distinctively related to academic competence. For example, Mboya (1993) defined specific self-concept of academic ability as students' perception of themselves as students and of their ability to learn in school. Liu, Kaplan and Risser (1992) defined academic self-esteem as a student's self-perceptions of approximating high academic standards. Wigfield, Eccles, Maclver, Reuman, and Midgley (1991) differentiated between self-concept of ability in particular subject areas and general self-esteem. They submitted 15 that as students made the transition from elementary school to junior high, there was a decline in general self-esteem scores, and in the students' self-concepts of their ability in mathematics, English and social activities. Liu, Kaplan and Risser (1992) suggested that academic self-esteem was the result of the experiences students had in their educational environments. In the arena of school achievement, students tend to perceive their own success or failures from the various approvals or disapprovals of teachers reflected in grades, comments, report cards (Wylie, 1979), or even in the voices, attitudes, and other behaviour patterns of teachers toward them. These various forms, in turn, become the basis on which the students judge themselves and thereby form their own concept or opinion of themselves as students (Purkey, 1970). (Liu, Kaplan & Risser, 1992, p. 127). Academic^cMej^ement The relationship between academic achievement and self-concept has been researched and discussed by many (Pottebaum, Keith, & Ehly, 1986; Keith, Pottebaum, & Eberhart, 1986; Mboya, 1993; Kohn, 1994). The focus of the current study is not to examine the relationship between these two constructs, but rather to see if academic achievement contributes in some way to students' feelings of mattering. How students are doing academically may relate to how they are connected to the individuals who are part of that environment. For example, Lewis, Schaps, and Watson (1995) suggested that students would work hard, achieve high grades and attribute more importance to school work when 16 they found themselves in classes in which they felt liked, accepted, and respected, by their peers and teachers. Whiting (1992) showed that self-concept of school ability affected mattering scores, but she did not test academic achievement as a variable in her study. Rosenberg (1965) observed that students with low self-esteem were less likely to join formal groups or informal groups, and did not assume positions of leadership. He describes these students as having an "impotent social force" because he found that students with low self-esteem participated in fewer extracurricular activities (especially clubs), were less often elected to positions of leadership, and were less popular with their classmates (p. 201). Rosenberg explained his finding as follows: Participation in such activities is a voluntary matter; an important motivation is simply the satisfaction of doing things with others. Now it is obvious that if a person tends to distrust others and if, further, he assumes they dislike him, then he would tend to avoid such groups. But these attitudes, we have seen, are characteristic of the egophobe—he has low "faith-in-people" and he believes that other people have a poor opinion of him. (p. 202) Yarworth and Gauthier (1978) conducted a study looking at the relationship between extracurricular involvement in either athlete or nonathletic activities and academic achievement. Their study involved 459 students in five central Pennsylvanian high schools. Of the total number in the sample group, 62.4% of the students were involved in either athletic or non-athletic extracurricular activities at their school. The results of this study 17 indicated that not only was there a statistically significant relationship between academic achievement and participation in the school activity program, but there was also a strong relationship with these two variables and self-concept. Steitz and Owen (1992) researched participation and involvement in school activities and self-esteem. The participants in their study were 212 sophomores and 230 juniors from a large urban public high school in the mid-South, which was predominantly white (90%) middle-class. The researchers used the Rosenberg (1965) Self-Esteem Scale and the Student Activities Checklist adapted from Yarworth and Gauthier's work (1978). Their study concurred with previous studies which found that "participation in athletics is associated with high involvement and self-esteem for both boys and girls" (p. 46). They also found that boys who did not participate in school activities had higher self-esteem than boys who participated in music. Girls who had high self-esteem were involved in both athletics and music. This study showed that self-esteem was affected by the nature of the school activity and by gender. ScljXKilJR-elatiQnships Wehlage, Rutter, Smith, Lesko, and Fernandez (1989) carried out extensive research on 14 alternative school programs and developed a theory concerning drop-out prevention. These researchers suggested that school membership, which they defined as "school belonging or bonding" was a critical element that determined whether or not students remained in school. One component of this school bonding was attachment, which they 18 defined as a "personal investment in meeting the expectations of others, caring what others think, and positive reciprocal teacher and student relations" (p. 23). Goodenow and Grady (1993) reviewed the literature which established the influence friends and peer groups have on student academic achievement and attitudes toward school. They carried out a study involving 301 urban junior high school students and found that if students believed others at school were rooting for them and willing to help them when necessary, then the students believed they had the resources necessary to be successful. Significant correlations were found between friends' values and expectancy, value of school work, school motivation, and effort/persistence. Goodenow and Grady concluded that students who had a high sense of belonging in school were more likely to be motivated and academically engaged than those whose sense of belong was low. Hagborg (1994) similarly looked at the concept of school membership among middle and high school students. He used the Quality of School Life Scale (QSL) which measures satisfaction at school, commitment to school work, and student-teacher relationship. Hagborg found that students with high scores on the QSL scales also reporting having significantly higher grades, spent more time on homework, and had higher scores on global self-worth and scholastic competence measures than students who scored low on the QSL. Finn (1989) investigated over 5,000 Grade 8 students from demographic groups statistically at risk of school failure. He found the students' perceptions of teacher support predicted several measures of school participation and engagement. 19 ScJhaoL&tmciure Eighth grade students are the focus group of this study. In some schools, Grade 8 is the beginning of a Junior High program, in others, it is the ending of a Middle School program. Eccles, Lord, and Midgley (1991) carried out a major longitudinal study using a nationally representative sample of eighth grade students. During the base year, data was gathered on a national stratified probability sample with 24,599 eighth grade students from 1,052 schools, with approximately 24 students from each school. One of the factors the study examined was the effect that different types of school configuration (eg. K-8, 6-8, 7-8, 7-9) and philosophies (eg. junior high, middle school) had on the student outcomes they were measuring—grades, locus of control, self-concept, preparedness for class, absenteeism, school violence, and substance abuse while at school. They found that the type of school environment itself, for example the size of the school and the quality of the teacher-student relationship, were far more significant than the grade-span configuration or the timing of the transition to high school. They stated that developmentally adolescents at the eighth grade level were: increasingly peer orientated; more self-focused and self-conscious; capable of increased abstract cognitive activity; and, desiring increasing autonomy from adult control. However, the environments in which these students found themselves were often moving towards decreased student participation and involvement and increased teacher control, which resulted in a decrease in the students' motivation and interest in the subjects they studied. Eccles, Lord, and Midgley emphasized that the quality of the student-teacher 20 relationship was often what made the difference between the students' interest, participation and involvement in the school program, not the configuration or the timing of the transition to a new school. The next chapter will outline the research methodology used for data collection and provide information about the instruments used in the study. 21 CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY Res£arcJb._Design This study was explorative in nature, based on a quantitative postpositive design. This allowed for examination of the relationship between several factors which were believed to contribute to students' feelings of mattering. It also allowed for testing the construct on a population that had not previously been studied—all adolescents in a regular class, rather than just male students (Whiting, 1982) or students in alternative programs (Norton, 1995). The dependent variable for the study was mattering. The independent variables were selected based on research and upon the recommendations of previous studies; they included: academic achievement (GPA score), self-concept of academic achievement, involvement in extracurricular activities, and the demographic variables of gender and age. The data was analyzed used descriptive statistics and step-wise regression analysis. Population and Participants Three private schools in the lower mainland, who are members of the Federation of Independent Schools Association of British Columbia (FISA), were selected for participation in the study. The schools were selected based on convenience. All three schools were located in the Surrey-Langley area. The schools all had a predominantly white middle- to upper-class student population. 22 School One was a K-12 school in Surrey, with three separate facilities for elementary, middle and high school. There were a total of 682 students on the campus. Students in Grade 8 were part of the middle school. Students who attend the school came from a wide-geographic area in the lower mainland (North Vancouver to Aldergrove).. In Grade 8 there were 77 students (46 boys, 31 girls) at the time of the study. School Two was a high school (Grades 8-12), located in Surrey, British Columbia. The school drew students from the neighbouring communities of Vancouver, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Surrey, Delta, and Langley. There were 397 students in the school. During the study, there were 95 eighth grade students (50 boys, 45 girls). School Three was a middle school (Grades 6-8) and high school (Grade 9), which was adding a high school grade each year. It was located in Langley, and drew students mainly from the surrounding area. There were 180 students in the school with 39 students in Grade 8 (15 boys, 24 girls). In total, there were 211 eighth grade students from the three schools who were asked to participate in the study. Of the 211 students, 111 students were boys (52.6%) and 100 were girls (47.4%). All students and their parents communicated effectively in English. The Ways of Mattering Questionnaire was developed by Amundson (1993b) to measure the degree to which an individual feels he/she matters to another individual or group. It has four sub-scales with five items in each, for a total of 20 items. The questionnaire uses a Likert-type scale, with 1 representing "Very Seldom" and 5 23 representing "Very Often". The scores from the subscales were totalled and an overall score out of 100 was obtained. The subscale areas, the constructs they measure, and examples of items from each scale are listed below. 1. Attention - the feeling that another person notices or is interested in you. Eg. they make an effort to make me feel welcome; they notice how I am feeling. 2. Jjmpjariance - others seem to care about what you want, think and do. Eg. they support me in reaching my goals; they listen to what I have to say. 3. Dependence - you feel that you are a contributing member and others are counting on your participation. Eg. they depend on me to give ideas; they count on my participation. 4. Ego-extension - you believe that others are interested in your successes and disappointments and actively follow your progress. Eg. they believe in me; they are interested in following my progress. The Individual and Group Forms ask the respondents to rate their reactions on twenty statements worded identically. The students in this study considered their core teachers (Humanities teacher and Math/Science teacher) while completing the Individual Form, and they considered their homeroom grade 8 peers while completing the Group Form. Norton's (1995) study showed the Cronbach's alpha levels of the Mattering Scale to range from .7201 to .9011. 24' School Questionnaire Form A one-page questionnaire was designed to obtain demographic information about each student and to assess their self-concept of their academic ability and their involvement in extracurricular school activities. Bachman's three-item School Ability Self-Concept Index (1969) was used. The Bachman items have been used in numerous studies of academic self-concept (Rosenberg, Schoenbach, Schooler & Rosenberg, 1995; Liu, Kaplan & Risser, 1992; Whiting, 1982). Two of the items were coded on a scale of 1 through 5—far below average to far above average: (1) "How do you rate yourself in school ability compared with those in your grade in school?" (2) "How intelligent do you think you are compared to others your age?" The third question, (3) "Compared to others your age, how important is it to you to be able to use your intelligence?" was coded from 1 through 5— much less important than average to much more important than average (Rosenberg, et al., 1995, p. 146). Whiting (1982) in her study of mattering used Bachman's scale and found the Cronbach's alphas on the three items to be 0.4195. Students were also asked on the questionnaire to indicate whether they were involved in extracurricular activities by answering yes or no, after reading the following definition: Extracurricular activities include any activities here at school that you voluntarily participate in, outside of regular classroom time—for example, before school, after school, at lunch time—in any area—sports, clubs, music, or other activities that may be unique to your school. 25 Procedure^ and_Data Collection The school administrators at the three schools received a letter outlining the study (Appendix A). The Administrators in turn shared this information with their school's Education Committee and Grade 8 teaching staff. All of the Administrators who were contacted agreed to participate in the study, subject to the individual student's and respective parent's/guardian's permission being obtained. The researcher went to each school in March to introduce the study and answer students' questions. Each grade 8 student was given a letter of consent to take home which needed to be signed by the student and his/her parent/guardian (Appendix B). The letter explained the purpose of the study, how the research would be carried out, and how the anonymity of each participant would be protected. Approximately a week later, the researcher returned, picked up the consent forms which had been obtained and provided follow-up letters to those students who had not returned the first form (Appendix C). The researcher went back a third time, approximately a week later, to again distribute additional consent letters. Information about the up-coming study was published in the schools' parent newsletters. At an agreed upon date and time, the researcher returned to each school to carry out the study during class time. Students who had not returned their consent forms or who had chosen not to participate in the study worked on independent work assigned by their subject teacher. Teachers either left the room or worked at their desks. Prior to the meeting with the students, the teachers had been asked not to walk around the room while the students were completing the instruments. 26 The researcher distributed the Ways of Mattering Questionnaire - Group Form (Appendix D), the Ways of Mattering Questionnaire - Individual From (Appendix E), and the School Questionnaire Form (Appendix F) to each student who had permission to participate. In order to provide consistency between testing environments, instructions were read to the participants (Appendix G). Students were reminded that participation in the study was voluntary. Some students who had agreed to participate were absent on the date of testing. Therefore the researcher returned to each school and administered the instruments to a small group of students within two weeks of the first testing date. It was necessary to have a system to coordinate the multiple pieces of data without using the students' names. Therefore, each student was given a student number. Each school and class was given a two-digit code. Then each student was given a number between 1-99, which was randomly selected from a container which contained the numbers on slips of paper. For example, a student number from School One might have been 1143; a student number from School Two might have been 2304. Students wrote their student numbers on the two mattering scale questionnaires and on the school questionnaire sheet. The student number was also used when entering G.P.A. scores for analysis. Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) scores were obtained for each student. Students' marks in all of their subject areas (usually eight subjects per student) from the Spring report card, in March, were used. Each school had a different system of reporting marks, therefore for the sake of comparison, percentages were converted to letter grades, which were converted to grade equivalent points. The total of the each student's points was then divided 27 by the number of courses he/she had, which produced a Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) score. Table 1 shows the standards which were used for the mark conversion to a G.P.A. score. Table 1 Mark_Conversior LChart Percentage Letter Grade Points 91-100% A 4.0 86-90% A- 3.7 82-85% B+ 3.3 77-81% B 3.0 73-76% B- 2.7 69-72% C+ 2.3 64-68% c 2.0 60-63% c- 1.7 57-59% D+ 1.3 53-56% D 1.0 50-52% D- 0.7 0-49% F 0.0 Scoring the Instruments The Ways of Mattering Questionnaires for each student were scored using a scoring guide (Appendix H). The accuracy of each student's scores was double checked at the time, as well as rechecked three weeks later. All data analyses and scoring was done by the researcher. Ways of Mattering Questionnaire scores were obtained for each of the four 28 categories (attention, importance, dependence, and ego-extension)-, as well as an overall score, for both the Individual and Group Forms. On the School Questionnaire Form, male gender was assigned a score of 1 and female gender was assigned a score of 0. If a student answered "yes" on the extracurricular involvement question, a score of 1 was assigned; if a student answered "no" on this question, a score of 0 was assigned to the item. A total score for the self-concept of academic achievement was arrived at by calculating the total value of questions 1-3, each item having a 1-5 rating, for a total possible rating of 15. Data was entered into the SPSS (1994) statistical software. The accuracy of the data entry was double-checked by comparing computer printouts with the raw data. Summaries of the results were shared with each school by way of a report to the administrators and grade 8 teachers, class visits to the students, and by publishing the findings in the schools' parent newsletters (Appendix I). 29 CHAPTER IV SUMMARY OF RESULTS D^cripliy^Jiiau^Iics The study was carried out from March to April, 1996, over a six-week period. A total of 167 eighth grade students (79% of the sample group) participated in the study. Of the participants, 88 were female (52.7%) and 79 were male (47.3%). The students ranged in age from 13 to 15. A large number of the eighth grade students, 131 (78.4%), were involved in extracurricular school activities, while 36 students (21.6%) were not involved in additional activities at school. This is a 16% higher involvement than Yarworth and Gauthier (1978) found in their study of high school students in Pennsylvania. On the academic self-concept scale the scores ranged from 7-15. The mean was 10.440 (SD = 1.660). Grade point average was calculated on a four-point scale (0-4). The mean for the Grade 8 students who participated in the study was 2.913, (SD = 0.638). Table 2 outlines a description of the participants with frequency and percentage break downs. Table 3 provides the means and standard deviations for age, academic self-concept, and grade point average scores for the students who participated. 30 Table 2: Freque iercei lelecle 2sJ&=JL62l Table Variable f E GENDER: Male 79 52.7 Female 88 47.3 AGE: 13 91 54.5 14 74 44.3 15 "2 1.2 EXTRACURRICULAR INVOLVEMENT: Yes 131 78.4 No 36 21.6 LJVJfeans_aaiSiandardJle_viaij lorjioLSelec jterlVariat Variable M SD Age 13.467 .524 Academic Self-Concept 10.440 1.660 G.P.A. 2.913 .638 Table 4 indicates the descriptive analysis for the Individual (Teachers) Mattering Scale, while Table 5 indicates the descriptive analysis for the Group (Peers) Mattering Scale. Internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) for this sample were .9326 and .9600 respectively, 31 which speaks to the high reliability of the items on the Mattering Scale. Table 4 and 5 also indicated a slightly higher degree of mattering on the teacher scale (M = 68, SD = 13.7) compared to the peer scale (M = 65, SD = 17.1). Table 4: Individual (Teachers) Mattering Descriptive Analysis & AlphaJSaoxesjOtvL^ JLoLT). Sub-Scale M SD (X, if item deleted Attention 16.5449 3.9663 .9096 Importance 17.5449 3.7605 .8945 Dependence 16.3054 3.5444 .9341 Ego-Extension 17.6347 3.7918 .9078 Overall Score 68.0299 13.7484 Alpha = .9326 Xable_5.:_GKMrjjReej^ ScoresjN = 167). Sub-Scale M SD 0C, if item deleted Attention 17.2096 4.7375 .9497 Importance . 16.6587 4.4947 .9376 Dependence 16.3952 • 4.2454 .9549 Ego-Extension 15.3832 4.6006 .9467 Overall Score 65.6467 17.0951 Alpha = .9600 32 Correlational and Regression Analyses The major focus of this study was on the factors which were predictive of students' perceived feelings of mattering. Table 6 shows the correlation matrix between the hypothesized predictive variables and the students perceived degree of mattering when the reference group was their core teachers. GPA was the strongest predictive variable (r = .294), followed by gender (r = -.183). The negative gender score suggests that this variable was more predictive for females than for males. IableJi^Q)rjtelaljxu^ (N = 167) Overall Academic X-Curricular Age GPA Score Self-Concept Involvement Academic .057 Self-Concept .234 X-Currictilar -.017 .021 Involvement .415 .392 Age -.063 -.083 -.050 .209 .145 .262 GPA .294 .353 .218 -.035 .000 .000 .002 .325 Gender -.183 .133 .049 -.015 .009 .044 .265 .425 Note:. Gender: 0=female, l=male; X-Curricular: 0=no, l=yes X-Curricular = Extracurricular; GPA = Grade Point Average 33 Stepwise regression analysis was run on the Individual (Core Teacher) data. In. stepwise regression analysis the computer determines the order in which the variables are entered into the prediction equation, by first using the independent variable which has the highest correlation with the dependent variable and then adding the other predictors one at a time according to the contribution they make to the multiple correlation coefficient. As Table 7 indicates, GPA was the only statistically significant (p < .001) predictive variable of students' perceived feelings of mattering to their core teachers. GPA accounted for 9% of the variance. No other predictive variables were statistically significant. Table 7: Summary of Stepwis_eJg.egressicui-AnaLysisjQr IndividiialXCore^ Variable R R2 SE B SE(3 P Step 1 GPA .29432 .08663 13.19369 6.34555 1.608966 .294324* *p<.001 Analysis was then conducted on the Group (Homeroom Peer Group) data. As Table 8 indicates, once again gender and GPA were strongly correlated with mattering. However, this time, gender was r = -.304 and GPA was r = .295. Table 9 shows the regression analysis and reveals that both gender and GPA were statistically significant at the p < .001 level. At Step 1, gender accounted for 9.2% of the variance (F = 16.75, Significant F = .0001). At 34 Step 2, GPA accounted for an additional 3.6% of the variance (F = 11.99; Significant F = .0000). The combined factors of gender and GPA accounted for 12.8% of the variance of students' feelings of mattering to their homeroom class peers. No other variables went into the equation. T^ible^LJ!]ojxdatkmaLAnaLy_sia ,(N= 167) id_P_re£ Overall Score Academic Self-Concept X- Curricular Involvement Age GPA Academic .039 Self-Concept .309 X-Curricular .054 .021 Involvement .245 .392 Age .021 -.083 -.050 .393 .145 .262 GPA .295 .353 .218 -.035 .000 .000 .002 .325 Gender -.304 .133 .049 -.015 -.400 . .000 .044 .265 .425 .000 Note: Gender: 0=female, l=male; X-Curricular: 0=no, l=yes X-Curricular = Extracurricular; GPA = Grade Point Average 35 Table 9: Summary of Stepwise Regression Analysis for Group (Peers) Mattering_(N = 167) Variable R R2 B SE (3 P SignifF Step 1 Gender .30445 .09269 -7.578855 2.722806 -.222114 .0060* Step 2 GPA .35812 .12825 5.509416 2.136567 .205768 .0108* *p < .001 Because gender arose as a significant factor, a third analysis was conducted treating the male and female data separately. No predictive variables for mattering were identified when the data collected from the male sample was analyzed. When the data for the female sample was analyzed, GPA emerged as a significant predictive variable for the individual (teacher) mattering scores. Table 10 shows that GPA accounted for 9% of the variance (F = 8.48682; Significant F = .0046) of female mattering when core teachers were the reference group. 36 Tab]£JLTl:_Sjumma^ AnaLysisjforJEemales Individual (Core Teachers) Mattering in Grade 8 Students (N = 88) Variable R R2 SE B SE 13 p Step 1 GPA .30130 .09078 9.23304 5.4483 1.8702 .301299* *p < .05 When interpreting the data, it should be remembered that only 79% of the total Grade 8 sample participated. There is the possibility that the inclusion of those students who did not participate may have altered the results. Also, the data received was through self-report, which has some restrictions. The scope and limitations outlined in Chapter 1 should be kept in mind when interpreting the results of this study. Discussion with Participants Once the data had been analyzed, it was shared with the participants, their parents, teachers and administrators. The students had an opportunity to ask questions and provide verbal feedback. In many cases, students mentioned they felt certain teachers cared for them and provided personal examples to illustrate this. For instance, "Teacher talks to us and lets us ask questions"; "Teacher takes extra time to help you"; "Teacher called me 37 at home to talk about my homework...". However, the students were also quick to discuss how some teachers wouldn't give them any help when they asked for it, or made them feel "stupid" when they asked a question. For example, "Teacher doesn't like us and says we're the worse class he has"; "Teacher yells at you if you ask a question"; "Teacher puts the assignment on the board and says, 'Do it!'". It was interesting that in almost all of the examples the students shared, teachers were talked about in relation to school work, specifically assignments and discipline. Students who felt they had a satisfactory relationship with their teachers, also expressed that they felt they were doing well in their classes and had friends who could help them. This seemed to correspond with the results found in the study. There was less discussion about the student-peer group comparison results. Students asked for some clarification on what the results meant, but very few were willing to comment on their peer relationships in the group setting. A couple comments were made about girls working harder than boys to get good grades, and girls reading more than boys, but no comments were made about the factors which effected how they felt connected to one another. In discussion with some of the participating teachers, the teachers expressed surprise that academic achievement had been the only significant variable. It was necessary to remind them that the study was limited in the areas it tested. Many teachers felt they had good relationships with their students. They indicated concern that lower achieving students tended to score low on the mattering scale. A few talked about the need to be more sensitive to the messages they communicate in class—for example, one teacher said, "I don't want my 38 students to think that the only thing that matters to me is getting good grades." A couple of teachers mentioned that their schools had implemented advisement programs which they hoped would help to build stronger teacher-student relationships. 39 CHAPTER V CONCLUSION The power of the school is not a matter of bricks and mortar, but of the human relationships we create that give young people the courage and ability to create other healthy relationships on their own. (Meier, 1993, p. 202) Meier aptly reminds us that schools are places of learning about human relationships. What students learn from those they have daily contact with, will shape their views of themselves and their relations to others. Schools are social environments where students have daily contact with other students and with educators. What are students learning about human relationships in our schools? Numerous researchers have examined the school environment, but few studies have been conducted which examine the factors which contribute to students' feelings of mattering—inclusion, importance, and significance—within that environment. This study demonstrated that in student-student relationships, gender and academic achievement contributed to feelings of "mattering". While in teacher-student relationships, only academic achievement was a significant factor, particularly for girls. Factors tested were: extra-curricular school involvement, age, gender, academic achievement, and academic self-concept. 40 Summary of Findings The purpose of this study was to identify the predictive factors of mattering for students by examining peer and teacher relationships. It is interesting to recognize that two of the variables tested, gender and G P A , were predictive of mattering, while self-concept of academic achievement, involvement in extracurricular activities, and age, were not significant predictive variables. When eighth grade students were asked about their perceived feelings of mattering to their core teachers, it was found that G P A was the only predictive variable, though it was a much stronger predictive variable for girls than for boys. When students were asked to use their homeroom peers as the reference group, it was found that first gender, then G P A , were predictive variables. Together these two factors accounted for 12.8% of mattering when homeroom peers.were the reference group. It should be noted that the School Questionnaire Form was given prior to the Mattering Scales. The items on the Form had questions related to academic achievement. If the study were repeated, the School Questionnaire Form should be given after the Mattering Scales, to see if the items from the School Questionnaire Form had any effect on the overall Mattering scores. It is possible that extracurricular involvement was too broad in scope to be a discriminating predictive variable. It is interesting that though other studies have found self-concept of academic achievement to be an important component of feeling significant at school (Whiting, 1982), this one did not. It was to be expected that age would not emerge as 41 a significant predictor. It is possible that if the study had been carried out across grades and age groups, then age (or grade) might have contributed slightly to the variance in mattering scores. Much has been written about the developmental, social, and emotional needs of adolescents and how school counsellors should address those needs (Gerler, Hogan, & O'Rourke, 1990; Mauk & Taylor, 1993; Rothenberg, 1993; Stanciak, 1995). This research project highlights the need for counsellors to work with the staff in their respective schools to ensure that all students feel that they "matter". An individual counsellor cannot have a close relationship with each student, but each counsellor can be aware of the research that indicates that students need to have their relational needs met while at school (Gregory, 1995; Noddings, 1995). Counsellors can work with their staffs to design programs and organize instruction which builds positive peer and staff relationships. Counsellors can also challenge school administrators and teachers to consider how they can help students (and staff) to feel "more connected". Counsellors might consider using the mattering scale as a screening measure to help identify students who are feeling marginal. These students could then be targeted for individual or group counselling, or programs, which help to link them up with significant individuals in their school environment. Pre- and post-testing could be done to see if the students' feelings of mattering increased after the intervention. 42 Suggestions for Further Research Mattering is an important construct which is useful in informing educators about how students are feeling connected to the social fabric of the school. Further research needs to be done to expand the findings of the current study. Investigation needs to be carried out on additional factors which contribute to students' feelings of mattering while at school. In order to validate the findings in this study and make the findings more generalizable, a study should be carried out which includes a randomized sample of high schools (public as well as private school, middle as well as junior high schools, with multiethnic representation). A qualitative study would provide insights into the aspects which effect mattering from the students' perspective. The themes which would emerge from the individual interviews conducted with the students, would provide information as to additional factors which could then be tested. The area of extracurricular school involvement needs to be investigated more thoroughly. Students should be asked to indicate the type and quantity (by time commitment) of activities they were involved in, similar to Yarworth and Gauthier's (1978) study. Perhaps the amount of time spent on involvement in extracurricular activities would be a predictive variable, or perhaps the type of activity would be more predictive for boys than for girls (Steitz & Owne, 1992). Is the participation rate of involvement higher for students in private schools, or is the participation rate higher for grade 8 students than for grade 12 students? Finally, a study could be designed to analyze the results of teacher-student and student-student mattering on a class by class basis, to see if factors and dynamics within the 43 class effect all of the students within that environment. For example, would students in some classes rate their feelings of mattering higher than in other classes? Would there be a difference if only one teacher was included in the Individual Mattering Scale analysis, instead of two? Would students who used "their friends" as the base group on the Group Mattering Scale indicate higher degrees of mattering, than when the reference group was their entire class? In summary, it is hoped that others will extend this research and continue to probe the concept of student mattering at school. Some students are successful and happy in their school environments; others are not. 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(549), 59-66. 49 Appendix A LETTER TO ADMINISTRATORS (UBC Letterhead) Date Address Dear RE: I IRC Research Study This letter will outline some of the details of my research study, with the Department of Counselling Psychology at UBC. My thesis committee chairperson is Dr. Norm Amundson. The other faculty advisors on my committee are Dr. Chester and Dr. Westwood. My study will examine students' perceptions of their significance in their school environment. I will be asking Grade 8 students in three independent schools to complete two questionnaires and a one page survey sheet. Draft copies of The Ways of Mattering Questionnaire (Individual and Group Forms), as well as a copy of the one page survey sheet, are attached for your information. The mattering questionnaires measure how students perceive their relationships with their classmates and with their teachers. The survey sheet collects some demographic data on each student, as well as asking them to answer three questions related to academic self-concept and one question about extra-curricular school involvement. You will note that students put a number on these forms, rather than their names. One aspect of my study includes having the GPA score of each student's academic achievement. Either the homeroom teacher can give each student a code number and place this number on a list of letter grades from the December reporting period, and then I will calculate the GPA, or if your reports are done on computer, perhaps a print out could be provided to me with coded numbers beside each GPA. We will need to discuss the most convenient way to obtain this information to ensure the anonymity of each participant in the study. Attached is a draft consent letter which I will be providing to your grade 8 students for them to take home to their parent(s)/guardian(s). School and individual student participation in the study is voluntary. If you are willing to have your school participate in this study, it might be helpful if you were to inform your school's Education Committee and the Grade 8 teachers so they will be informed and aware of the study. If you would like me to meet with them, please do not hesitate to contact me. When I have completed my study, I will be sharing the results with you. I would ask that you publish a short summary of the findings in your school newsletter. If you would like me to meet with your staff or students to explain the results, I would be happy to do so. The results will not indicate how your school did in comparison with how other schools did, nor will individual 51 Appendix B CONSENT FORM (UBC Letterhead) Date Dear Parent/Guardian and Grade 8 Student, Consent Form The purpose of this letter is to introduce myself and my research project to you. My name is Darleen Kifiak, and I am a graduate student in the Department of Counselling Psychology at U.B.C. I have obtained the permission of Principal's Name, your school's Education Committee, and your teachers, to collect information in order to complete my thesis for a Master of Arts degree in Adolescent Counselling. My research supervisor is Dr. Norm Amundson, with the Department of Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. My study will examine students' perceptions of their significance in their school environment (for example, whether or not they feel they "matter" to someone at school and what factors contribute to those feelings of "mattering"). I will be asking Grade 8 students in three independent schools to complete two questionnaires and one survey sheet. The questionnaires measure how students perceive their relationships with their classmates and with their teachers. The survey asks the students about their perception of their academic ability and their involvement in extra-curricular school activities. Completion of the three forms should take approximately 30 minutes. Your school also will be asked to provide a G.P.A. score from the last reporting period, beside an anonymous student number, for each student who participates in the study. Each student will be given a student number and their names will not appear on any of the questionnaires, or research results. When I have completed my study, I will be sharing the results with your school administration and asking them to publish a short report in your school newsletter. The results of this research study will indicate whether or not students feel they matter at school. The results will help to identify those factors which most influence a student's sense of mattering in the classroom and therefore may be useful for program adaptation and improvement. Page 1 of 2 54 Appendix D WAYS OF MATTERING QUESTIONNAIRE: GROUP FORM Norm Amundson, Ph.D. University of British Columbia c 1993 This questionnaire focuses on some of the ways you perceive your relationships with others in your class. You will be asked to think about a specific class and then respond to a series of questions that describe aspects of those relationships. Of particular interest is the extent to which you feel that you are important or matter to the group. Think carefully about each question and choose the number that B E S T describes how often each one occurs using the following F I V E POINT S C A L E : 1 = Very Seldom; 2 = Seldom; 3 = Sometimes; 4 = Often; 5 = Very Often. Situation: Indicate below the group that you are referring to when making this assessment: Grade 8 Homeroom Class Circle the number that BEST describes how_Qften the group responds in the following ways: l=Very Seldom; 2=Seldom; 3=Sometimes; 4=Often; 5=Very Often Example: They... take my feelings into account. 1 2 3 4 5 If you think this describes your experience, and your peers usually DO take your F E E L I N G S into account, then you would circle a '4' or '5'. IF, on the other hand, you think that they DON'T take your F E E L I N G S into account you would circle a T or '2'. (A) They take my feelings into account. (B) They respond to me in a way that makes me feel significant. (C) They depend on me to give ideas. (D) They are interested in following my progress. (E) They value my contributions. (F) . They support me in reaching my goals. (G) They believe in me. (H) They help me to feel at ease. (I) They count on my participation. (J) They take into account what I want to do. (K) They notice how I am feeling. (L) They rely on my support. (M) They care about my well being. (N) They listen to what I have to say. (O) They will continue to be interested in me even when we go our separate ways. (P) They make an effort to make me feel welcome. (Q) They appreciate what I have accomplished. (R) They follow up to see how I am doing. (S) They acknowledge my presence when entering the room. (T) They are careful to get my input before making decisions that affect me. Student Number: 56 Appendix E WAYS OF MATTERING QUESTIONNAIRE: INDIVIDUAL FORM Norm Amundson, Ph.D. University of British Columbia c 1993 This questionnaire focuses on some of the ways you perceive your relationships with your teachers. You will be asked to think about a specific teacher and then respond to a series of questions that describe aspects of that relationship. Of particular interest is the extent to which you feel that you are important or matter within this relationship. Think carefully about each question and choose the number that B E S T describes how often each one occurs in your RELATIONSHIP using the following F I V E POINT S C A L E : 1 = Very Seldom; 2 = Seldom; 3 = Sometimes; 4 = Often; 5 = Very Often. Situation: Indicate below the person that you are referring to when making this assessment: Grade 8 Core Teachers (Humanities, Math and Science). Circle the number that B E S T describes how often the person responds in the following ways: l=Very Seldom; 2=Seldom; 3=Sometimes; 4=Often; 5=Very Often Example: My teachers... take my feelings into account. 1 2 3 4 5 If you think this describes your experience, and the people usually D O take your FEELINGS into account, then you would circle a '4' or '5'. IF, on the other hand, you think that they DON'T take your FEELINGS into account you would circle a T or '2'. Very Seldom Seldom Sometimes Often Very Often (A) My teachers take my feelings into account. 1 2 3 4 5 (B) My teachers respond to me in a way that makes me feel significant. 1 2 3 4 5 (C) My teachers depend on me to give ideas. 1 . 2 3 4 5 (D) My teacher are interested in following my progress. 1 2 3 4 5 (E) My teachers value my contributions. 1 2 3 4 5 (F) My teachers support me in reaching my goals. 1 2 3 4 5 (G) My teachers believe in me. 1 2 3 4 5 (H) My teachers help me to feel at ease. 1 2 3 4 5 (I) My teachers count on my participation. 1 2 3 4 5 (J) My teachers take into account what I want to do. 1 2 3 4 5 (K) My teachers notice how I am feeling. 1 2 3 4 5 (L) My teachers rely on my support. 1 2 3 4 5 (M) My teachers care about my well being. 1 2 3 4 5 (N) My teachers listen to what I have to say. 1 2 3 4 5 (0) My teachers will continue to be interested in me even when we go our separate ways. 1 2 3 4 5 (P) My teachers make an effort to make me feel welcome. 1 2 3 4 5 (Q) My teachers appreciate what I have accomplished. 1 2 3 4 5 (R) My teachers follow up to see how I am doing. 1 2 3 4 5 (S) My teachers acknowledge my presence when entering the room. 1 2 3 4 5 (T) My teachers are careful to get my input before making decisions that affect me. 1 2 3 4 5 Student Number: Appendix F School Questionnaire 58 Student Number: Age: Gender: F M 1. How do you rate yourself in school ability compared with those in your grade in school? Far Below Below Average Above Far Above Average Average Average Average 2. How intelligent do you think you are compared to others your age? Far Below Below Average Above Far Above Average Average Average Average 3. Compared to others your age, how important is it to you to be able to use your intelligence? Much less Less Important More Much More Important Important Important Important 4. Extra-curricular activities are any activities here at your school that you voluntarily participate in, outside of regular class time (for example, before school, after school, or at lunch time). Activities may be in any area, for example: sports, clubs, music, or other activities unique to your school. Are you involved in extra-curricular activities at your school? Yes No 59 Appendix G INSTRUCTIONS TO PARTICIPANTS To be read to students before administration of the instruments. You may remember, my name is Darleen Kifiak. I am a student at the University of British Columbia. As I mentioned last time I was here, one of the requirements for my program at UBC is to carry out a research study. I am going to read over some instructions, so that everyone who participates in the study will have the same information. Student participation in this study is voluntary. If at any time you do not wish to fill out the questions on the sheets I will be giving you, you may stop. Students who are not participating are with your teacher in the library (or whatever arrangements have been made). You may join them or simply work on something quietly at your desk until the rest of the students have finished answering the questions. In my study, I am interested in learning more about whether or not you feel significant here at school. Today we will be filling out three forms. Two of them are very similar (hold up The Ways of Mattering Group and Individual Forms) and the other is a one page questionnaire. Please do not write your name anywhere on these forms. I will be calling out your name and I would like you to write down the number I give you on the top of the questionnaire sheet. The number you receive will be used on each of the forms you write on today. This will help me in tabulating the results from the three forms. The purpose of assigning you this number is to help ensure that no one will be able to identify your results. I am the only one who has access to this master list, and I promise you I will not allow anyone to find out your number so they can discover how you have answered today. Once you have received your number, I put the list away. When tabulating the data, I only refer to your information by student number. Are there any questions? (Provide each student with their student number.) When the results are reported, your teachers will not know how you individually, or as a class, have answered. Your results will be included with over one hundred student responses, which help to give me, and those who are interested, a picture of what grade 8 students feel about the questions asked. It will probably take us approximately 30 minutes to fill out these questions. Let's start with the one page questionnaire form. Please check that you have recorded your student number, then fill out the rest of the information on the top line. Then go ahead and read each question and answer them to the best of your ability. There are no right and wrong answers to the questions you are asked today. 60 (Once it seems that everyone is finished ask...) Does anyone need more time to complete the one page questionnaire? (If everyone is finished, distribute The Ways of Mattering Questionnaire). Please take the Individual Form. Notice that the titles on the top of both of these sheets are different. Let's read over the directions together. I will read them orally and I would appreciate it if you would follow along silently. (Read directions.) Please look at the Group Form now. You will notice that it is very similar, but instead of looking at how you are perceived by your teacher, you will be considering how you are perceived by your classmates. (Read directions.) Are there any questions? You have as much time as you need to complete these forms. When you are finished, please turn your papers upside down on your desk, and either do other work, or wait silently until your classmates are done. (When it appears that everyone is finished, ask if anyone needs more time. If not, collect the tests, and thank the students for their participation.) 61 Appendix H WAYS OF MATTERING QUESTIONNAIRE INDIVIDUAL FORM (Teachers) Scoring Guide Attention Sub-Scale Importance Sub-Scale Item Score Item Score (b) (h) (k) (p) (s) (a) (f) (j) (n) . (q) Total: Total: Dependence Sub-Scale Ego-Extension Sub-Scale Item Score Item Score (c) (e) (0 (0 (t) (d) (g) (m) (o) (r) Total: Total: Overall Score Attention Importance Dependence Ego-extension Total Student # Maximum: 25 Maximum: 25 Maximum: 25 Maximum: 25 Maximum: 100 62 W A Y S O F M A T T E R I N G QUESTIONNAIRE G R O U P F O R M (Peers) Scoring Guide Attention Sub-Scale Importance Sub-Scale Item Score Item Score (b) (h) (k) (P) (s) (a) (f) 0) (n) (q) Total: Total: Dependence Sub-Scale Ego-Extension Sub-Scale Item Score Item Score (c) (e) (0 (1) (t) (d) (g) (m) (o) (r) Total: Total: Overall Score Attention Importance Dependence Ego-extension Total Student # Maximum: 25 Maximum: 25 Maximum: 25 Maximum: 25 Maximum: 100 63 Appendix I REPORTED RESULTS IN SCHOOL NEWSLETTERS GRADE 8 MATTERING STUDY Miss Kifiak wishes to thank the Grade 8 students, and their parents, for their agreement to participate in her research study, with the Dept. of Counselling Psychology at UBC. The results were shared with the grade 8 students earlier this week, and parents who would like further information about the study are invited to contact Miss Kifiak. The study dealt with the concept of "mattering", which is defined as: a person's sense that others notice you, care about what you think and do, count on you, and believe in you. A total of 167 Grade 8 students from three Christian schools in the lower mainland participated (79% of the sample group). They completed two scales and one questionnaire. The first scale examined the relationship Grade 8 students have with their classmates; the second examined the relationship the students have with their teachers. The purpose of the study was to see what factors contribute to students' feelings of significance ("mattering") at school. The results indicated that in student-student relationships, gender and academic achievement contributed to feelings of "mattering". In teacher-student relationships, only academic achievement was a significant factor. Factors tested in this study were: extra-curricular school involvement, age, gender, academic achievement, and academic self-concept. The implications of the study will be discussed by the Middle School staff at a future meeting. 


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