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Longitudinal Inter-relations between School Cultural Socialization and School Engagement among Urban Early Adolescents

Abstract

Culturally relevant practices are valuable assets for ethnically-racially diverse schools, but few studies examine whether such practices promote students’ engagement in school longitudinally and whether ethnicity-race moderates the effects of such practices on students’ engagement. To address this gap, the present study examined whether schools that acknowledge and promote positive messages about youth’s ethnicity-race (i.e., school cultural socialization practices) promoted multiple dimensions of students’ school engagement and whether these links differed between African American and European American students. Data were collected in four waves during a two-year period from 403 fifth graders (55.1% males; 63% African American, 37% European American). The results revealed that African American youth who perceived more school cultural socialization reported greater behavioral and affective engagement (but not cognitive engagement) six months later. European Americans’ perceived school cultural socialization was unrelated to their levels of engagement in later months. Across groups, neither type of engagement predicted subsequent school cultural socialization, supporting the direction of effects in the results. Implications are discussed regarding how educators can leverage cultural socialization to promote school engagement among African American youth.

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Authors’ Contributions

J. D. T. conceived of the study, performed the measurement, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted/revised the manuscript; M-T. W. acquired the data, participated in its design, coordination, and interpretation of the data, and helped to draft/revise the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation [grant number 1561382] to M.-T. W.

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The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available, but they are available from the authors on reasonable request.

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Correspondence to Juan Del Toro.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. A review conducted by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Pittsburgh approved the study to be consistent with the protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects and to meet the requirements of the Federal Guidelines.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Appendix

Appendix

School cultural socialization

Measure. The four items used in the school cultural socialization measure came from the school cultural socialization subscale (Byrd, 2015). A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) suggested that the four items measured the same construct adequately at baseline, χ2 (2) = 4.23, p = ns, RMSEA = 0.05, 90% CI [0.00, 0.12] CFI 0.99 SRMR 0.02.

Validity assessment. Consistent with prior research (Byrd, 2017), the validity of the school cultural socialization measure was evaluated. First, to establish discriminant validity, the correlation between school cultural socialization and perceived ethnic-racial discrimination was assessed at baseline. Because discrimination and socialization are different constructs, discrimination experiences from peers and teachers were expected to be weakly related to school cultural socialization (Byrd, 2017); they were (r = 0.06, p = ns; r = 0.03, p = ns, respectively). Therefore, evidence of discriminant validity was found. Next, correlations between school cultural socialization and psychological outcomes were assessed at baseline to establish concurrent validity for school belonging and liking. Significant correlations emerged between school cultural socialization and school belonging (r = 0.32, p < 0.001) and liking (r = 0.44, p < 0.001), with more cultural socialization predicting more positive outcomes. Thus, evidence of concurrent validity was found.

Measurement invariance

Measurement invariance was assessed to ensure that adolescents’ response patterns to school cultural socialization and school engagement measures were similar between racial groups and repeated assessments.

Race. This study tested whether the observed ethnic-racial group differences may have been driven by potential measurement bias. Baseline assessments were used to assess whether they could achieve at least partial scalar invariance for each construct between African American and European American early adolescents. A multi-group CFA of early adolescents’ perceived school cultural socialization with ethnicity-race as the grouping variable indicated that configural invariance was achieved, χ2 (11) = 18.04, p = ns, RMSEA = 0.06, 90% CI [0.00, 0.11] CFI 0.98 SRMR 0.10. Subsequent chi-square difference tests indicated that criteria for metric and scalar invariance were achieved as sequentially constraining the factor loadings and intercepts to be equivalent across groups did not result in a significant decrement in model fit [factor loadings: Δχ2 (4) = 1.53, p = ns; intercepts: Δχ2 (4) = 2.44, p = ns]. For school engagement, fit indices from a CFA of all engagement items across the four assessments indicated configural invariance, χ2 (620) = 952, p < 0.001, RMSEA = 0.03, 90% CI [0.03, 0.04] CFI 0.94 SRMR 0.06. A series of chi-square difference tests indicated that criteria for metric and scalar invariance were achieved, as sequentially constraining the factor loadings and intercepts to be equivalent between ethnic-racial groups did not result in a significant decrement in model fit [factor loadings: Δχ2 (10) = 4.07, p = ns; intercepts: Δχ2 (10) = 2.56, p = ns].

Time. Following baseline, for school cultural socialization, fit indices from a CFA of these items across time indicated configural invariance, χ2 (98) = 201.49, p < 0.001, RMSEA = 0.05, 90% CI [0.04, 0.06] CFI 0.93 SRMR 0.05. Chi-square difference tests indicated that criteria for metric and scalar invariance were met, as sequentially constraining the factor loadings and intercepts to be equivalent across time did not result in a significant decrement in model fit [factor loadings: Δχ2 (20) = 9.1, p = ns; intercepts: Δχ2 (8) = 4.71, p = ns. For school engagement, fit indices from a CFA of all engagement items across time indicated configural invariance, χ2 (620) = 952, p < 0.001, RMSEA = 0.03, 90% CI [0.03, 0.04] CFI 0.94 SRMR 0.06. A chi-square difference test indicated that metric invariance was achieved, as constraining the factor loadings to be equivalent across time did not result in a significant decrement in model fit, Δχ2 (30) = 42.90, p = ns. However, partial scalar invariance was achieved, as constraining all the intercepts to be equivalent across time resulted in a significant decrement in model fit, Δχ2 (30) = 53.52, p < 0.001.

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Del Toro, J., Wang, MT. Longitudinal Inter-relations between School Cultural Socialization and School Engagement among Urban Early Adolescents. J Youth Adolescence 50, 978–991 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01377-w

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Keywords

  • Cultural socialization
  • School engagement
  • Early adolescence
  • Ethnicity-race