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Intrapersonal Factors Associated with Academic Success among High School Students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (AP-IB) Programs

Year: 2010
Name of Institution:
University of South Florida
Goal: Exploration
Principal Investigator:
Suldo, Shannon
Award Amount: $1,018,359
Award Period: 3 years
Award Number: R305A100911

Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Shaunessy

Purpose: The number of high school students enrolled in rigorous college preparatory programs such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (AP-IB) classes and programs is on the rise. These students are increasingly diverse in terms of ethnic and linguistic background, academic preparation, socioeconomic status, and experience with managing challenging academic coursework. In this study, the researchers will explore how, and for whom, malleable factors such as coping strategies, engagement in learning, and perceptions of school connectedness may act as protective factors for students dealing with the inherent stress of AP-IB programs. This information can inform school-based prevention and intervention efforts to mitigate the impact of stress and increase the likelihood that all students can excel in rigorous academic coursework during high school.

Project Activities: The research is divided into three stages. First, focus groups with multiple informants (students, school staff, parents, and expert advisory panels on coping and gifted education) and case studies of successful and less successful AP-IB students will be used to identify perceived stressors and coping strategies for these students. Second, this qualitative data will be used to develop items for stress and coping inventories appropriate for AP-IB students. In the third and final stage of research, high school students in AP-IB programs will complete the newly developed and validated self-report inventories along with other self-report measures to identify the malleable intrapersonal factors (for example, coping strategies for academic demands, engagement in learning, school connectedness factors such as teacher-student relationships, and peer support) that are associated with mental health (for example, subjective well-being, psychopathology) and academic performance (for example, AP-IB exam scores, attendance, college admission) of students in rigorous college preparatory programs.

Products: Products include published reports on an empirically based theory of change regarding potential causal relations between intense academic demands, malleable student factors, and educational outcomes germane to college preparatory programs. This will provide the basis for future development of possible interventions that target the unique needs of students in rigorous AP-IB programs.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research takes place in high schools with Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs located in five large school districts in Florida.

Population: Study participants are 2,790 high school students (9th through 12th grade) enrolled in AP or IB programs, 65 school staff (e.g., AP-IB teachers and school guidance counselors), and 65 parents of AP-IB students.

Intervention: The researchers are examining malleable student level factors to guide future development of coping skills interventions appropriate for the unique needs of students in AP-IB programs.

Research Design and Methods: In the first year of the project, the research team will conduct focus groups with multiple informants (students, school staff, parents, and expert advisory panels on coping and gifted education), along with interviews of successful and less successful AP-IB students, to identify perceived stressors and coping strategies of students in AP-IB programs. This qualitative data will be used to develop stress and coping inventories appropriate for AP-IB students. The measures will be pilot-tested for readability, concurrent validity, and test-retest reliability. In the second year of the project, high school students in AP-IB programs will complete the newly developed and validated self-report inventories along with other self-report measures to identify the malleable intrapersonal factors (for example, coping strategies for academic demands, engagement in learning, school connectedness factors such as teacher-student relationships and peer support) that are associated with mental health (e.g., subjective well-being, psychopathology) and academic performance (for example, IB-AP exam scores, attendance, college admission) of students in rigorous college preparatory programs. The final project year is devoted to data analysis and interpretation with input from the expert advisory panels regarding the interpretation of the results.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: Archival school records of class attendance, performance in AP-IB courses, and scores on high stakes tests such as the PSAT/SAT will be used to measure academic performance. The Adolescent Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences (ACOPE) scale, the Adolescent Stress Questionnaire (ASQ), and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) will be used to assess the concurrent validity of the newly developed coping and stress inventories for AP-IB students. The School Attitude Assessment Survey – Revised (SAAS-R), the Experience Sampling Form (ESF), the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale (CASSS), the Youth Self Report of the ASEBA, Students' Life Satisfaction Scale (SLSS), and the School Burnout Inventory (SBI) will be used to measure additional malleable student-level characteristics.

Data Analytic Strategy: The focus group and interview data are analyzed using consensual qualitative analysis to identify common themes. Confirmatory factor analysis is used to determine the internal structure of the newly developed coping and stress inventories, and Cronbach alphas, item-to-total correlations, and test-retest reliability coefficients will be assessed to determine their psychometric properties. Partial concurrent validity of the developed instruments will be established by examining correlations with conceptually similar subscales from different measures. Hierarchical linear modeling will be used to examine predictive relationships and determine mediators and moderators in the theory of change model.

Related IES Projects: Facilitating Academic Success and Emotional Well-Being among High School Students in Accelerated Curricula (R305A150543)

Publications::

Dedrick, R.F., Shaunessy-Dedrick, E., Suldo, S.M., and Ferron, J.M. (2014). Psychometric Properties of the School Attitude Assessment Survey–Revised With International Baccalaureate High School Students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 59, 38–54.

Suldo, S.M., Dedrick, R.F., Shaunessy-Dedrick, E., Fefer, S.A., and Ferron, J. (2015). Development and Initial Validation of the Coping with Academic Demands Scale. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33 (4), 357–374.

Suldo, S.M., Dedrick, R.F., Shaunessy-Dedrick, E., Roth, R.A., and Ferron, J. (2015) Development and Initial Validation of the Student Rating of Environmental Stressors Scale. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33 (4), 339–356.

Shaunessy-Dedrick, E., Suldo, S.M., Roth, R.A. and Fefer, S. A. (2015). Students' Perceptions of Factors that Contribute to Risk and Success in Accelerated High School Courses. The High School Journal, 98, 109–137.