An Exploration of the Relationships Between Academic Enablers and Middle School Achievement

Open Access
Author:
Strunk, Theresa Anne
Graduate Program:
School Psychology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
October 29, 2014
Committee Members:
  • James Clyde Diperna, Dissertation Advisor
  • James Clyde Diperna, Committee Chair
  • Robert Leslie Hale, Committee Member
  • Rayne Audrey Sperling, Committee Member
  • Lisa M Conyers, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • academic enablers
  • self-efficacy
  • academic achievement
  • middle school
Abstract:
The purpose of the present study was to explore the relationships between middle school students’ academic enablers and their later academic achievement. Based on previous research, five student academic enablers (academic self-efficacy, academic motivation, interpersonal skills, academic engagement, and study skills) were used to predict students’ year-end standardized achievement scores after controlling for cognitive ability, prior achievement, gender, and free/reduced lunch status. The final data set included 733 students in Grades 6-8 at one suburban middle school in the Northeast U.S. It was hypothesized that all enablers would demonstrate small to moderate relationships with language arts and math achievement across all grade levels. After controlling for cognitive ability and student background characteristics, none of the academic enablers substantially added to the prediction of achievement test scores. Although math self-efficacy demonstrated a statistically significant relationship with later math achievement in all grades, this relationship was negligible in magnitude. These results were similar to several previous studies that included cognitive ability or previous achievement in the models. Results indicated that cognitive ability and previous achievement continue to have the greatest impact on academic achievement gains at the middle school level as they do in younger and older populations. Limitations of the study, implications of the findings, and directions for future research are addressed.