School level environment and student outcomes in science and mathematics

Year: 2001

Author: Webster, Beverley, Fisher, Darrell

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a relationship exists between school level environment and student outcomes. The study involved 620 teachers and 4,645 students from 57 Australian secondary schools in all states and territories. Student outcome measures included science and mathematics achievement, career aspirations and students' attitudes and beliefs about success in science and mathematics. Teachers' perceptions of their school environment were measured using the School Level Environment Questionnaire and included variables such as empowerment, affiliation, mission consensus, resource availability, work pressure, student support, innovation and professional interest. Previous research has shown that factors at the school level, like environment, influence education at the classroom level and to further investigate this, data regarding the instructional practices of teachers was included in the analysis. The results of these analyses showed that various factors of the school level environment were linked to improved student outcomes. For example, teachers who felt supported and empowered were more likely to employ student centred instructional practices and work pressure and resource adequacy influenced the instructional approaches in the classrooms. Furthermore, these results indicate relationships between instructional practices and improved student outcomes and these relationships were mediated by student attitudes and beliefs about success.