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Longitudinal Inter-relations between School Cultural Socialization and School Engagement among Urban Early Adolescents

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Culturally relevant practices are valuable assets for ethnically-racially diverse schools, but few studies examine whether such practices promote students’ engagement in school longitudinally and whether ethnicity-race moderates the effects of such practices on students’ engagement. To address this gap, the present study examined whether schools that acknowledge and promote positive messages about youth’s ethnicity-race (i.e., school cultural socialization practices) promoted multiple dimensions of students’ school engagement and whether these links differed between African American and European American students. Data were collected in four waves during a two-year period from 403 fifth graders (55.1% males; 63% African American, 37% European American). The results revealed that African American youth who perceived more school cultural socialization reported greater behavioral and affective engagement (but not cognitive engagement) six months later. European Americans’ perceived school cultural socialization was unrelated to their levels of engagement in later months. Across groups, neither type of engagement predicted subsequent school cultural socialization, supporting the direction of effects in the results. Implications are discussed regarding how educators can leverage cultural socialization to promote school engagement among African American youth.
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Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2021) 50:978991
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01377-w
EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
Longitudinal Inter-relations between School Cultural Socialization
and School Engagement among Urban Early Adolescents
Juan Del Toro 1Ming-Te Wang1
Received: 20 September 2020 / Accepted: 15 December 2020 / Published online: 13 January 2021
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC part of Springer Nature 2021
Abstract
Culturally relevant practices are valuable assets for ethnically-racially diverse schools, but few studies examine whether such
practices promote studentsengagement in school longitudinally and whether ethnicity-race moderates the effects of such
practices on studentsengagement. To address this gap, the present study examined whether schools that acknowledge and
promote positive messages about youths ethnicity-race (i.e., school cultural socialization practices) promoted multiple
dimensions of studentsschool engagement and whether these links differed between African American and European
American students. Data were collected in four waves during a two-year period from 403 fth graders (55.1% males; 63%
African American, 37% European American). The results revealed that African American youth who perceived more school
cultural socialization reported greater behavioral and affective engagement (but not cognitive engagement) six months later.
European Americansperceived school cultural socialization was unrelated to their levels of engagement in later months.
Across groups, neither type of engagement predicted subsequent school cultural socialization, supporting the direction of
effects in the results. Implications are discussed regarding how educators can leverage cultural socialization to promote
school engagement among African American youth.
Keywords Cultural socialization School engagement Early adolescence Ethnicity-race
Introduction
African American students who learn more about their
ethnic-racial groups history, traditions, and values in the
classroom may experience more equitable academic tra-
jectories. For instance, African American adolescents who
feel connected to their ethnic-racial group show positive
academic outcomes (Miller-Cotto and Byrnes 2016). One
recent meta-analysis found that youth demonstrated favor-
able academic engagement and performance in school when
their caregivers involved them in the positive discourse
surrounding their cultural heritage, history, and values
(Wang et al. 2019), activities known as cultural socializa-
tion (Hughes et al. 2006). Because most studies to date have
examined parental cultural socialization, the role of school
cultural socialization in shaping African American youths
school engagement is relatively unclear (Hughes et al.
2011). Educators may be important sources of cultural
socialization as adolescents spend most of their day-to-day
lives in schools. In addition, given the multifaceted nature
of school engagement, knowledge regarding how school
cultural socialization relates to different dimensions of
engagement can inform best school practices that promote
studentsacademic trajectories (Wang and Peck 2013). In
addition, when examining academic-related outcomes rela-
tive to school cultural socialization, researchers lump mul-
tiple ethnicities-races into a single group (Byrd 2017). Due
to African American youths experiences of ethnic-race-
based marginalization relative to their European American
peers (Garcia Coll et al. 1996), youths ethnicity-race may
moderate the effect of school cultural socialization on each
domain of engagement. Thus, this study aimed to investi-
gate whether schoolscultural socialization practices pre-
dicted adolescentsbehavioral, affective, and cognitive
engagement in school and whether the associations between
cultural socialization and each domain of engagement var-
ied by adolescentsethnicity-race. Repeated assessments
were used to address the developmental complexity of the
*Juan Del Toro
juan.deltoro@pitt.edu
1Learning Research and Development Center, University of
Pittsburgh, 3939 OHara Street, Ofce #745, Pittsburgh, PA
15260, USA
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... Unfortunately, few empirical studies have linked school cultural socialization to school climate and student engagement simultaneously and longitudinally. In the few studies that have examined the link between school cultural socialization and school climate, researchers have found that adolescents who received cultural socialization messages from educators also had more favorable views of their teachers (Howard, 2001), reported greater engagement in school (Del Toro & Wang, 2021), were more likely to believe that school rules were clearly and consistently enforced (Byrd, 2017), and reported a stronger sense of belonging and interpersonal relationships in school (Byrd, 2015(Byrd, , 2017Dickson, Chun, & Fernandez, 2015). In turn, positive school-based interpersonal relationships and students' trust in school authority's engagement in fair discipline practices-both of which are major components of school climate-have been found to predict greater engagement in school (Benner, Graham, & Mistry, 2008;Griffin, Cooper, Metzger, Golden, & White, 2017;Wang, Degol, Amemiya, Parr, & Guo, 2020). ...
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