Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Shauna M Cooper


African American students in K-12 education experience pervasive disparities in academic outcomes across all areas of the schooling experience. In order to understand the factors that promote academic achievement among individuals who face adversity, researchers have sought to examine how school environmental factors hold influence over students' academic adjustment. Drawing from an integrative model of development for ethnic minority children and a process model of engagement, this investigation explored whether three dimensions of school engagement, behavioral, emotional and cognitive, mediated relationships between school racial climate and academic performance and educational aspirations. These relationships were explored in a sample of 139 (79 girls, 60 boys) African American adolescent youth recruited from a high school in the southeastern region of the United States. Findings revealed an indirect effect of perceptions of racial fairness on academic achievement indicators though behavioral and cognitive engagement. Behavioral and cognitive engagement also mediated relationships between youths' perceived peer discrimination and academic achievement indicators. Interestingly, the mediating role of emotional engagement in these relationships was found to be dependent on the predicted achievement outcome. No significant indirect effects of teacher discrimination on academic achievement through school engagement dimensions were found. Study limitations, future research directions and implications are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons