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Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning


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FY Awards

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School-Based Marginalization, Social Behavioral Competencies, and Achievement: A Meta-Analysis

Year: 2019
Name of Institution:
University of Texas, Austin
Goal: Exploration
Principal Investigator:
Varner, Fatima
Award Amount: $599,751
Award Period: 2 years (09/01/2019–08/30/2021)
Award Number: R305A190504


Co-Principal Investigators: Benner, Aprile; Beretvas, S. Natasha

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to conduct a meta-analysis of potential links between school-based marginalization, social behavioral competencies, and academic achievement from kindergarten through high school. Marginalization within schools, a process through which students are excluded from the larger school culture due to their personal identities and experiences, represents a key malleable facet of school climate that may be amenable to intervention. The process of marginalization can be based on an individual's race or ethnicity, gender, sexual minority status, socioeconomic status (SES), immigration status, or language ability, among other identities and characteristics.

Project Activities: The meta-analysis will focus on students in kindergarten through high school and will consider school-based marginalization processes, such as interpersonal discrimination, disparate disciplinary actions or policies, students' perceptions of fairness of discipline, and peer victimizationbased on social position characteristics. The research team will identify relevant articles, develop a system for coding, and use a two-stage approach to meta-analytic structural equation modeling to pool together the relevant correlation matrix elements and sample characteristics that can then be used to test the research questions.

Products: The products of this meta-analysis include information about vulnerable populations and mechanisms through which school-based marginalization relates to K–12 students' social, behavioral, and academic development. Researchers will share this information through peer-reviewed journal articles and national conference presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Studies included in the meta-analysis must include students in grades K–12 enrolled in a public or private elementary or secondary school. Studies of home-schooled children, those in early childhood education programs, and college students will be excluded. Studies from any country meeting this criterion are eligible for inclusion if results are provided in English.

Sample: The meta-analysis will focus on studies of K–12 students. Students, educators, or school administrators can all report school-based marginalization.

Malleable Factors: Malleable factors include marginalization within schools, student social relationships with peers and teachers, and student social behavioral competencies.

Research Design and Methods: The research team will search relevant literature using four complementary strategies—reference database searches, antecedent searches, descendent searches, and grey literature searches—to identify all possible studies on school-based marginalization, achievement, and social behavioral competencies. To be included in the meta-analysis, the study must present results pertaining to school-based marginalization, including discriminatory, racist or prejudicial treatment (tied to various social positions, including race or ethnicity, SES, nativity, LGBTQ status, gender); disparate, inconsistent, or harsh disciplinary strategies; and general unfair treatment or unfair rule implementation. The research team will focus on social and psychological forms of marginalization that are more frequently tied to students' social position characteristics and are also likely to include school personnel as perpetrators. To be included in the meta-analysis, the study must include statistics (descriptive or inferential) that can provide an estimate of the correlation between included focal constructs. Research designs most commonly are correlational studies, but studies with experimental or quasi-experimental designs are eligible for inclusion. Designs can be cross-sectional, where all measures are collected at a single time point, or longitudinal, where measures are assessed repeatedly across time (longitudinal associations between central constructs of interest may be within or across time).

Control Condition: Due to the exploratory nature of this study, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: School-based marginalization will include teacher- and peer-perpetrated discrimination, disparate discipline actions and policies, students' perceptions of unfair or harsh treatment, and peer victimization based on social identities. Social behavioral competencies will most typically include school engagement (behavioral, cognitive, emotional), on/off-task behaviors, academic motivation, effort/persistence, value of education, educational expectations or aspirations, self-related perceptions (efficacy, esteem, worth, concept), truancy, and discipline referrals. Achievement outcomes will most commonly include grades or grade point averages, teacher-designed tests, standardized achievement tests, and general ratings of academic performance. Focal mediators include student-teacher and student-peer relationships and social-emotional well-being. Target social position indicators include race/ethnicity, SES, gender, nativity, and LGBTQ status.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use a two-stage approach to meta-analytic structural equation modeling, controlling for experiment-wise type I error rates using Bonferroni's modification of the a-level used for testing each path in each structural equation model. They will first synthesize studies' estimates of correlations between each pair of constructs. After synthesizing the set of correlations, the resulting pooled correlation matrix and its associated covariance matrix will then provide the data that the research team will analyze using structural equation modeling techniques to address each meta-analytic research question.