Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Connectedness and Self-Regulation as Constructs of the Student Success Skills Program in Inner-City African American Elementary School Students

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Connectedness and Self-Regulation as Constructs of the Student Success Skills Program in Inner-City African American Elementary School Students

Article excerpt

Relative to their suburban peers, inner-city African American elementary school students are often situated at a disadvantage insofar as social and in-school opportunities are concerned (Bolland, Lian, & Formichella, 2005; Glickman & Scally, 2008). As a way to confront these forms of inequity, evidence-based interventions tailored to support the personal, social, and learning needs of this population of students can be important inclusions to the school curriculum. Specifically, curricular opportunities designed to support students' feelings of belonging and connectedness to the learning environment and how one might self-regulate social and learning potentials in these environments can be especially useful. Students who report a sense of connectedness to a school environment report feelings of support, safety, and learning engagement (Witherspoon, Schotland, Way, & Hughes, 2009). Within these school environments, students who self-regulate tend to motivate, direct, and reflect on specific thoughts and behaviors in intentional and useful ways (Zimmerman & Schunk, 1989). It is assumed that students who feel connected and are better able to self-regulate might be able to confront the social inequities that they are associated with in inner-city environments and, in turn, maximize their potentials as learners and social beings.

Schools are charged with providing interventions designed to cultivate skills associated with successful school and life outcomes (Rubin, Smart, & Zanutto, 2004). Classroom experiences designed to improve student performance are often founded on the supposition that evidence-based efforts can neutralize certain inequities experienced by some children. Contemporary curricular content and pedagogical practices often narrowly focus on promoting the memorization of content and, in turn, largely ignore learning and social skill development necessary for the types of academic understanding necessary for performance on high-stakes academic tests (Hamre & Pianta, 2005; McCombs & Miller, 2007). School counselors--those school professionals equipped with training that is educational and developmental in nature (Brown & Trusty, 2005)--may be ideal candidates to supplement social and learning skills curricula and experiences in classrooms; unfortunately, school counselors are often seen outside of the immediate sphere of the reform conversation (Dollarhide & Lemberger, 2006; Stone & Dahir, 2006).

Although school counselors struggle to demonstrate direct influence on the learning culture of classrooms, theorists have posited that these professionals are uniquely poised to improve the school climate (Hernfindez & Seem, 2004) and help students develop self-regulation skills (Lapan, Kardash, & Turner, 2002). Together, these concepts represent the manner in which a student experiences his or her environment and how that student thinks and behaves in response to the environment. These concepts also represent the precepts of a school counseling intervention program, Student Success Skills (SSS), which has been shown to promote higher levels of student achievement (Brigman & Campbell, 2003; Brigman, Webb, & Campbell, 2007; Campbell & Brigman, 2005; Leon, Villares, Brigman, Webb, & Peluso, 2011; Webb, Brigman, & Campbell, 2005). Although numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of feelings of connectedness to school (e.g., Malecki & Demaray, 2006) and student self-regulation (e.g., Zimmerman & Schunk, 1989), there has not been a study that specifically explored how these constructs change in students as a result of participation in the SSS program. To this end, we examined the influence of the SSS program on the reported feelings of connectedness and select self-regulatory constructs on a group of inner-city African American elementary school students.

* SSS Programmatic Structure

The SSS program was developed to support students' academic achievement by means of ameliorating foundational learning skills, attitudes, and classroom climates necessary for success in school (Brigman & Campbell, 2003). …

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