Growth Model For Students' Perceptions of Teachers in Middle and High School
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The purpose of this study was to model students’ perceptions of teachers (fair, warm, friendly, etc.) over time from 6th to 9th grade, to examine whether a relationship existed between students’ perceptions of teachers and distal outcomes of education attainment and education status in emerging adulthood, and to examine whether gender was associated with teacher perceptions, the trajectory of perceptions, or the outcomes. Attachment Theory and Self Determination Theory were used as frameworks for understanding relationships between study variables. The present study used existing data from a longitudinal, multi-wave, intervention study (Project Alliance 2 [PAL-2] DA018374) that addressed adolescents’ negative behaviors during middle school to high school. Data was examined from a sample of 415 participants from the larger randomized control trial of 593. Participants were students from three socioeconomically and ethnically diverse public middle schools in the Pacific Northwest. Data was analyzed using Mplus7.1 using full information maximum likelihood to account for missing data. The study had several key findings. First, latent class growth model (LCGM) analyses revealed a significant a linear model that showed an overall declining trajectory of students’ perceptions of teachers from 6th to 9th grade. There was a significant difference between students’ perceptions of teachers in 6th grade and education status. Students who reported more positive perceptions of teachers in 6th grade were more likely to endorse enrollment in a vocational or educational program. Second, LCGM analyses further revealed a model with an added quadratic term that showed an overall declining trajectory of student’s perceptions of teachers that decelerated beginning at 7th grade. Third, LCGM and growth mixture model analyses examined trajectories of students’ perceptions of teachers over time and revealed a two-class model. The first class was represented by a declining trajectory and a second class represented by overall lower students’ positive perceptions of teachers in 6th grade that increase each year through the 9th grade. Students’ perceptions of teachers appear to converge in 9th grade for both classes. Implications for practice and research, along with limitations and directions for future research are discussed.