Teacher and school characteristics as protective factors: an investigation of internalizing and externalizing behaviors among rural, at-risk children

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Limited research exists examining the social-emotional functioning of rural, at-risk children in addition to school characteristics that may impact behaviors. In the present study the social-emotional functioning of rural, at-risk Kindergarten students was observed in relation to various school characteristics including teacher perceptions of professional climate, opportunities for professional development and collaboration, teacher efficacy, and teacher-child relationships. The sample of students from low SES families residing within rural areas was derived from a nationally representative database (ECLS-K 2011), and yielded a sample size of 1,318. The results were analyzed using several path analyses. The analyses revealed that teacher perceptions of professional climate in addition to reported opportunities for professional development and collaboration were important to their feelings of effectiveness as a teacher (teacher efficacy). In addition, the conflict within a teacher-child relationship was significantly related to teacher ratings of internalizing and externalizing problems. Implications for the potential impact on social-emotional problems through interventions at the school and teacher level are discussed.
Dissertation completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Psychology degree in School Psychology at Alfred University, Alfred, NY.
Teacher efficacy, At-risk students, Elementary education