Psychometric and Ecometric Properties of the School Climate Measures

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Chapter 3 Metho


The data for the thesis were gathered as part of a larger project, called Youth’07, which aimed to collect information on the health and wellbeing of secondary students in New Zealand. Data for the school climate survey was obtained from participating students, teachers, and school administrators as part of the procedures and processes used in the Youth’07 survey. All students participating in the Youth’07 survey were asked questions about their school climate as well as information on their health and wellbeing. All schools participating in the student survey were also invited to participate in the teacher school climate survey and school administrator survey. This chapter outlines the process by which schools and students were selected and how information was obtained from participating students, school staff and school administrators.


To help guide and provide advice to this nationally important survey of the school climate in New Zealand, a school climate advisory group was set up. This group contained academics, school principals and community representatives and met regularly at the beginning stages of the project. During the project, this role was taken over by the school principal’s advisory group.

Ethical Procedures

Ethical consent for this study was obtained from the University of Auckland Human Subject Ethics Committee. Written consent was obtained from the principal of each school involved on behalf of its Board of Trustees. Information on the survey was sent home to parents a few weeks before the day of the survey and a student participant information brochure was given to each student a week prior to the survey. The family and student information sheets informed students and their families about the purposes of the project, and who they could contact to ask questions about the survey. The information sheets also stressed that the students’ participation was voluntary and that any information collected would be anonymous and confidential.
Students were randomly selected to take part in the survey and on the day of the survey all of those attending school were invited to participate. They were divided into groups of up to 100 students to administer the survey in separate sessions. Each group was brought into the classroom where the survey was being administered, and each student was given a random anonymous code to log on to the survey. The consent process was then outlined to the students and then they were able to ask questions about the survey. At the beginning of the questionnaire, students were asked to give their consent to participate. Students who gave their consent went on to continue with the survey questions. Students who declined to participate could either use other features on the internet tablets used for the survey or return to class. Students could also withdraw from the survey at any time.
ol were invited to take part in the school climate survey. A participant information sheet explained the purpose of the study and who they could contact if they questions about the study. The teacher school climate survey was a self‐ report pen‐and‐paper questionnaire that took 15 to 20 minutes to complete. The administration was coordinated by a project team member in conjunction with a school liaison staff member. Most surveys were completed during a staff meeting (67%) or at school but not during a staff meeting (27%). A small number of teachers completed the survey at home (6%). A study team member was present at the staff meeting in 40% of schools to explain the survey and answer any questions; otherwise the school liaison staff member performed this role.
Senior school management were asked to complete a school administration questionnaire. This was usually done by the principal or deputy principal; occasionally, the school liaison completed the questionnaire. The school admin survey was a pen‐and‐paper questionnaire that took 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

Multimedia Survey using Internet Tables

The student survey was carried out using internet tablets, which are essentially handheld computers (Denny et al., 2008). Use of this technology allowed the questionnaire to be presented in audiovisual form. The survey questions were displayed on the internet tablet’s screen and also read out through headphones. Response options were also read out when the corresponding text on the screen was selected. This ‘voiceover’ was available in both English and Māori languages, with students able to toggle between these twon  languages. A demonstration of the questionnaire interface and the ability to toggle between languages is available at‐tools‐1106.htm.
The design of the multimedia questionnaire interface was based on that used in the 2001 survey, using an updated cartoon Kiwi on an island as the theme for the survey (Adolescent Health Research Group, 2003). As students used the internet tablet to move through the sections of the survey on the different aspects of their life, they travelled around the island, ending up on the top of a mountain at the end of the survey.
No keyboard data entry was required; questions were answered by touching the screen with a stylus. Students were able to choose not to answer any question or section of the survey at any point. Before sensitive sections of the questionnaire, reminders were given that involvement in the survey was voluntary and that answers would remain confidential and anonymous. After questions thought to be potentially upsetting for students, ‘Safety’ messages were given, providing advice and contact details of people to talk to (including the people administering the questionnaire).
Questionnaire responses were automatically transmitted by a Wi‐Fi web server to the laptop database. Files from the laptop servers were later uploaded to a central database and then imported into statistical software and collated for analysis.
In addition to completing the questionnaire, students were weighed and measured for height, weight, and waist circumference, using portable digital weighing scales, stadiometers, and waist circumference tape measures. This was done in private using screens with same‐gender project staff when possible. Following these measurements being taken, students were asked to provide the address of their usual place of residence to ascertain their census Meshblock number. This was used to derive New Zealand Deprivation Index scores based on the area where the students lived and to identify whether students lived in urban or rural settings. Geocode software was used to locate the census Meshblock number from their residential address. The process was carefully explained to students so that they understood that their anonymity was maintained. For example, students were shown that their address was deleted once the Meshblock number was obtained.

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Chapter 1: How Do We Study the Effects of Schools on Student Health and Wellbeing?
1.0 Introduction
1.2 Issues in Contextual Analysis
1.3 Specification of Multilevel Models
1.4 Multilevel Models
1.5 Conclusions
Chapter 2: Literature Review 
2.0 Introduction
2.1 Theories of Adolescent Development, Risk Behaviours and Emotional Wellbeing
2.2 Theories of School Engagement and Bonding
2.3 School‐Based Intervention Studies to Address Health and Wellbeing Outcomes
among Students
2.4 Summary and Gaps in the Literature
2.5 Underlying Theory and Research Hypotheses
Chapter 3: Methodology and Sample1
3.0 Introduction
3.1 Methodology
3.2 Student Survey
3.3 Teacher Survey
Chapter 4: Psychometric and Ecometric Properties of the School Climate Measures
4.0 Introduction
4.1 School Climate Questions in the Student Health and Wellbeing Questionnaire
4.2 Multilevel Factor Analysis
4.3 Creation of the School Climate Measures
4.4 Conclusions
Chapter 5: The Association between School Contexts and Student Health and Wellbeing
5.0 Introduction
5.1 Selection of Outcome Measures
5.2 Analysis
5.3 Results
5.4 Conclusions
Chapter 6: Differential Associations between School Environments and Student Behaviours
6.0 Introduction
6.1 Methodology
6.3 Analysis
6.4 Results
6.5 Conclusions
Chapter 7: Summary and Conclusions 
7.0 Overview of Research
7.1 Cluster Randomised Studies
7.2 Multilevel Observation Studies
7.3 Theories of School Engagement and Adolescent Development
7.4 Main Findings
7.5 Strengths of the Research
7.6 Methodological Limitations
7.7 Limitations of Overall Research
7.8 Implications
7.9 Conclusions

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