Social support trajectories and school outcomes among urban, elementary aged youth

2008 2008

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Abstract (summary)

The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of social support trajectories among urban children during a one-year period and to determine whether these trajectories are associated with school-related adjustment. Conceptualizing support in this way provides important information about the developmental course of disadvantaged children that may not be obtained by analyses examining average changes in support over time. Participants included 402 students attending six elementary schools in an urban, low-economic school district. Students provided ratings of perceived social support from their family, teacher and peers during the fall and spring semesters of 2 nd grade. Teacher ratings of academic competence, grades, and attendance records were collected during the fall and spring of 2nd grade and the spring of 3rd grade. Results indicated that although the majority of participants experienced consistent levels of ongoing perceived support, a substantial portion experienced categorically defined changes in support (i.e., support growth or decay). Membership in these trajectories was not related to gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Planned comparisons indicated that there were no significant differences in school outcomes for any of the family support trajectories. However, when teacher, peer, and cumulative support trajectories were examined, several significant differences emerged. Children who perceived highly supportive relationships at the beginning of the year, followed by decay, demonstrated academic advantages when compared to children who perceived consistently low support. Further, early deficits in supportive relationships were associated with academic disadvantages that persisted, despite support growth. Results also indicated that children who perceived relative support constancy had better school outcomes compared to those who perceived relative growth or decay in support. Together, these findings suggest that children's history of support is associated with a level of academic competence and achievement that endures, at least for a short time, even when supportive resources change. This has important theoretical and practice implications for young children in urban contexts.

Indexing (details)

Social psychology;
Educational psychology;
Clinical psychology;
Social support;
Urban areas;
Elementary schools;
Children & youth
0451: Social psychology
0525: Educational psychology
0622: Clinical psychology
Identifier / keyword
Education; Psychology; Children; Elementary-aged; Ethnic minority; School adjustment; Social support; Urban youth
Social support trajectories and school outcomes among urban, elementary aged youth
Klein, Dena A.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 69/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Elias, Maurice J.
Committee member
Bry, Brenna H.; Demaray, Michelle; Elias, Maurice J.; Karlin, Robert A.
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
Psychology, General
University location
United States -- New Jersey
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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