Organizational structures and student transitions from elementary to middle school
Parker, Audra Kaye
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of different organizational structures on young adolescents’ perceptions of their self-concept and classroom environment across the transition from elementary to middle school. Data were collected from groups of elementary students who were transitioning into one middle school. Cohorts were formed comprised of students from each school across two years of the transition project. Observations of the activities both within the classrooms as well as a review of transition activities conducted by the school counselors and administration did not suggest a qualitatively different experience with regard to the transition program for students over the two years of the study. Data were collected using the Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale and the Modified Classroom Climate Inventory and analyzed between the two groups of elementary school students using one-way analysis of variance. In addition, time effects were measured using multivariate analysis of variance. The data suggests that students’ self-concept and perceptions of classroom climate did not vary prior to or after the transition to middle school based on the type of instructional structure they experienced in fifth grade. However, analyses suggest that the time effect for students’ self-concept did significantly increase across the transition to middle school. Students’ ratings on classroom climate suggested a mixed effect of time on students’ perceptions of classroom climate, as only two of the five subscales increased significantly. The results suggest the type of elementary school structure students experience does not significantly impact students’ ratings of self-concept or classroom climate across the transition to middle school. The positive overall time effect on students’ self-concept suggests that the structures of the middle-school environment, including teaming and advisory, positively effect students’ perceptions of self-concept. The mixed effect of time on students’ perceptions of classroom climate may indicate that the emphasis at the beginning of sixth grade appears to be on the socialization of students into the middle-school culture as opposed to the cognitive aspects of schooling.