Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 1977

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Robert Markley

Abstract

This analytic, relational survey explored the effects of ethnic group and sex on school related attitudes and the relationship between academic achievement and attitudes toward school. A direct, self-report measure of attitudes toward various aspects of school, an amended version of the School Sentiment Index, was administered to 173 intermediate grade school pupils from three elementary schools located in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. The area is isolated, rural, and economically disadvantaged. Over half the students in the sample were of Mexican-American heritage. The purpose of the study was to examine assumptions implied in the rationale for educational programs attempting to directly influence attitudes of minority and disadvantaged students with the imputation that negative attitudes toward school severely handicap school performance for these students. The study was also an effort to generate data which would be useful in educational program planning and evaluation. Analysis of covariance was used to compare scores obtained on the attitude measure in a 2 x 2 factorial design with composite achievement test score as the covariate. Pearson r correlation coefficients were computed between scores on attitude and achievement measures. Although Mexican-American students scored significantly lower on academic achievement tests, they did not respond more negatively on the measure of attitudes toward school than did their Anglo peers. They, in fact, indicated a relatively more positive attitude toward their orientation toward school in general and in their satisfaction toward peer relationships in school. A small but significant correlation was found between achievement test scores and attitude toward school. The relationship was greater for Anglo students than for Mexican-American students as well as for one school than for others. There was a trend, not statistically significant, for the relationship between attitude and achievement to increase by grade level. It was concluded that the scholastic performance of minority children is no more a function of their sentiments toward school than for other children. Results of the study generated several questions which merit further investigation in regard to the factors which effect both academic achievement and attitudes toward school, especially for children of minority and disadvantaged groups. It would appear that educators should look at changes which could be made in traditional methods and curriculum which would make schooling a more effective and relevant experience for all children and youth rather than imputing its failures to the attitudes held by the population it is to serve.

Rights

Copyright 1997 Marilyn Elledge Coffelt

Comments

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