Abstract: The Influence of the Perceived School Climate on Adolescents' Academic Achievement: Testing the Mediating Role of Intrinsic School Motivation (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

262 The Influence of the Perceived School Climate on Adolescents' Academic Achievement: Testing the Mediating Role of Intrinsic School Motivation

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Marie Claire Vaillancourt, MS, Doctoral Student, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
Vanessa Blanchette-Luong, BA, Student, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
Marie-Hélène Véronneau, PhD, Assistant Professor, Universitae du Quabec a  Montraeal, Montreal, QC, Canada
Cécile Mathys, PhD, Chargé de cours, Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium
Academic achievement is important for adolescent development, as it is associated with social adjustment (social skills, peer acceptance) and with physical and mental health throughout the lifetime (Chen, 2003; Herzog, 1998). Adolescents spend a large amount of time in school; thus it is not surprising that positive school climate enhances academic learning (Janosz, 1998). However, very few studies have explored how this link operates and how it is explained. Because intrinsic motivation is positively associated with academic achievement, (Harter, 1984) we hypothesize that a positive school climate will enhance student’s intrinsic motivation, which will in turn positively influence student’s academic achievement.

We recruited 905 participants from a Belgium secondary school (Grades 1–5; mean age: 14,42 years old). Perception of school climate was assessed using 5 subscales of the French version of the Socio-Educational Environment Questionnaire of Schools (Janosz, 2007) : Relational Climate (10 items, α = .87), Security Climate (8 items, α = .50), Belonging Climate (6 items, α = .89), Educational Climate (7 items, α = .91) and Justice Climate (9 items, α = .85). Intrinsic school motivation was assessed with 3 subscales of the Academic Motivation Scale (AMS, Vallerand, 1989): Intrinsic Motivation Knowledge (4 items, α = .84), Intrinsic Motivation Accomplishment (4 items, α = .79) and Intrinsic Motivation Stimulation (4 items, α = .80). Academic achievement was assessed with school records (grade point average).

Preliminary analyses were conducted with Time 1 measures only, but final analyses will test a longitudinal model using outcome measures at Time 2 (six month later) and Time 3 (one year later). Structural equation modeling (MPlus v7) yielded excellent model fit according to all indices, χ2 (3) = 6.11, p = .11, CFI = 1.00, TLI = .99 RMSEA = .03. We confirmed our hypothesis that intrinsic motivation mediates the association between a positive perception of school climate and academic achievement (β= .07, p ≤ .001).

In conclusion, a positive school climate is related to higher levels of academic achievement and this relation is partially explained by the effect climate has on students’ intrinsic motivation. In other words, how students perceive the larger school environment in which they learn influences their own individual motivation to learn which is subsequently related to their success in school. These results press the importance of prevention programs that aim to improve school climate (1) because of their direct effects on academic achievement but (2) also because of their direct effects on student intrinsic motivation, a factor that promotes a myriad of positive student outcomes that include but also go above and beyond grades.