Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Confirming the Structural Validity of the My Class Inventory-Short Form Revised

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Confirming the Structural Validity of the My Class Inventory-Short Form Revised

Article excerpt

School counselors are operating in an era of accountability in which simply reporting how time is spent is insufficient (Dimmitt, Carey, & Hatch, 2007). They must now document how students are different as a result of school counseling efforts and make data-driven decisions about the implementation of their comprehensive school counseling programs (Dimmitt et al., 2007; Wiseman, 2010). Leaders in the field strongly encourage the use of research-based interventions linked to academic, social/ emotional, and career outcomes (Carey & Dimmitt, 2008; Dimmitt et al., 2007; Slavin, 2008; Squier, Nailor, & Carey, 2014). Although school counselors have at their disposal interventions to positively impact students (Carey, Dimmitt, Hatch, Lapan, & Whiston, 2008; Committee for Children, 2012; Mariani, Webb, Villares, & Brigman, 2015; Villares, Frain, Brigman, Webb, & Peluso, 2012; Walsh, Kenny, Wieneke, & Harrington, 2008), there remains a lack of psychometrically sound and reliable instrumentation available to accurately evaluate interventions' effects.

This psychometric study reports the findings of a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to determine the reliability and structural validity of the My Class Inventory--Short Form Revised (MCISFR; Sink & Spencer, 2005). The MCI-SFR is used to assess elementary students' perceptions of their classroom climate. Previous analysis of the MCI-SFR resulted in a moderately reliable and valid four-factor model reflective of the instrument's four scales (Cohesion, Competitiveness, Friction, and Satisfaction; Sink & Spencer, 2005). Sink and Spencer (2005) suggested that a follow-up analysis was needed to establish the construct validity, scale stability, and factor invariance of the MCI-SFR using another sample of American, elementary-age students. This article (a) addresses the importance of classroom climate and what school counselors can do to impact climate, (b) presents information about available instruments that assess climate, and (c) discusses the findings of the CFA of the MCI-SFR.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CLASSROOM CLIMATE

The term classroom climate refers to the type of learning environment created and maintained by the school faculty, staff, and students (Adelman & Taylor, 2002). It includes the physical aspects of space (furniture, lighting, color, fixtures) and the quality of the social interactions of those that inhabit it (respectful, democratic, collaborative). An optimal or positive classroom environment is one in which students feel safe, supported, cared about, and are appropriately challenged. A positive learning environment promotes respectful communication, open expression of emotions among the students and educators, and a balance between structured and unstructured activities (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009). Learning is maximized in positive climates, particularly when interactions between the teacher and students are highly engaging, respectful, and welcoming (Adelman & Taylor, 2002; Reyes, Brackett, Rivers, White, & Salovey, 2012; Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg, & Walberg, 2007).

Classroom climate can affect both learning and behavior. One key element impacting classroom climate is students' perceptions of safety, both emotional and physical (Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, & Higgins-D'Alessandro, 2013). Absenteeism, number of suspensions, drop-out rates, and incidents of bullying can all be impacted by classroom climate (Thapa et al., 2013). If classroom climate improves, student engagement and academic performance will also likely improve (Reyes et al., 2012). Growing evidence indicates that the quality of the relationships in a classroom can result in academic, social, behavioral, and emotional gains for students (Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004; Rimm-Kaufman, Fan, Chiu, & You, 2007; Wilson, Pianta, & Stuhlman, 2007; Thapa et al., 2013). In addition to the power of supportive relationships between the teacher and students, effective classroom management and sound instruction further contribute to a positive learning environment (Adelman & Taylor, 2002). …

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