Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Priscilla Blanton

Committee Members

Hillary N. Fouts, Mary Jane Moran, John G. Orme

Abstract

Abstract

Parents in the home and educators in the schools are key adults in the most important contexts in the daily lives of school-age children. In the demanding, achievement, and accountability oriented culture of today, it is expected that children experience normal everyday stressors as they move between these two environments. The impact of stress related to daily hassles has been reported to have both cognitive and physical effects on the present and future well-being of children. This study represented an attempt to advance the understanding of childhood stress in the intersection between school and home by investigating the perceptions of parents related to stress experienced by their children in the school context specifically related to academics.

The construct of parental perceptions of childhood school related stress was conceptually explained and the need seek a way to measure it was justified. A pool of 30 items for a parent-report instrument were developed and analyzed for dimensionality and reliability. Six directional hypotheses were proposed as a beginning step in establishing construct validity. Parents of public school children in the third to fifth grades completed an online or paper version of the survey (N = 89).

Results of the reliability and item analysis of the Parental Perceptions of School Stress (PPSS) scale supported a unidimensional scale and indicated strong internal consistency among scale items. The regression analysis of the model indicated a moderate amount of the variance could be explained. Univariate results supported two statistically significant independent variables which included the presence of one or two parents in the household (a moderate to large effect on PPSS) and the amount of time the child invested in homework (a large effect on PPSS) providing preliminary evidence of construct validity for the scale with this sample.

Practical implications for using the scale to develop parent and teacher awareness were explored. Future research recommendations for refining the PPSS scale suggested potential next steps for examining the dimensionality, reliability, and ongoing process of validation important in scale development research.

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