Master's Project Title:

An Exploration of Latina School Connectedness

MCH Student:

Amy Cowell

Date of Defense:

Dec. 22, 2014


Background:  Research suggests that feeling connected to one’s school during adolescence  promotes concurrent and long – term positive youth development (Resnick et al., 1997; Eccles et  al., 1993; Osterman, 2000). The scope of research is limited, however, in regards to L atina  adolescents and the role of school connectedness in the context of other factors that may  uniquely influence the population such as acculturation and family connectedness.

Methods: Using baseline data from the Project Wings Girls’ Group, a school – based mental  health promotion pilot program (n=42), t he current study  explores the concept of cultural  variation in school connectedness. Although not powered to show significance, p – values are  reported to explore relationships between variables of interest to inform further research on the  topic. The study  compares students with high School Connectedness Scores (SCS) to those with  low SCS on variables that previous studies have shown are related to school connectedness  (extracurricular participation, risk behaviors) as well as cultural and social variables specific to  the population (acculturation, family connectedness).

Results:  Results show that  the High SCS group had higher scores on the American Culture  Scales and much lower scores on the Biculturalism scale than did the Low SCS group  (p=.05). Interestingly, both High and Low SCS groups had very similar Family Connectedness  Score means and little between group difference was seen on extracurricular participation and  several health behaviors.

Conclusions: Finding provides further evidence that strong minority cultural identifies conflicts  with ability to generalize the feelings of bonding and b elong with institutions of the majority  culture. This speaks to the need to ensure that efforts to increase school connectedness are  culturally appropriate.