Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis and Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Renée M. Tobin

Second Advisor

Adena B. Meyers


The present study sought to determine whether rural high school students' positive perceptions of their school climate could make it less likely that they would engage in or be exposed to risky behaviors, and if students' gender and grade moderated this association. School climate is a construct that consists of the following five major dimensions: Safety, Relationships, Teaching and Learning, the Instructional Environment, and the School Improvement Process, although this final dimension was not assessed in the current study (Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, and Higgins-D'Alessandro, 2013). The specific risky behaviors that were examined in this study were delinquent behaviors, victimization, substance use, and sexual risk-taking (Varjas, Henrich, & Meyers, 2009; Gottfredson, Gottfredson, Payne, & Gottfredson, 2005; Wang, Selman, Dishion, & Stormshak, 2010; Kasen, Cohen, & Brook, 1998; O'Brennan & Furlong, 2010; Kumar, O'Malley, & Johnston, 2008). In order to evaluate whether the hypothesized connection existed, the author analyzed archival data collected from students attending high schools in a rural Midwestern county. The data that were utilized for this study were from surveys that assessed students' perceptions of their school climate and the degree to which they engaged in or were exposed to the aforementioned types of risky behaviors. The results of this study suggest that the Relationships dimension of school climate is particularly important for students attending schools in rural areas. Results additionally suggest that students in lower grades are more likely to be victimized than students in higher grades. More specific findings, implications, and future directions, are also discussed in this paper.


Imported from ProQuest Green_ilstu_0092N_10402.pdf


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