The development of a measure of school climate and its validation using a multimethod approach
Ruane, Martin Laurence
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The study was undertaken for two purposes. The first purpose was the development of a measure of school climate, the Saskatchewan School Climate Scale (SSCS). The second purpose was to gain a better understanding of the school climate phenomenon. Motivation for the study came from a conviction that inconsistent research findings were partly the result of flawed school climate measures. The SSCS was based on Tagiuri's (1968) conceptual framework. Tagiuri's climate framework, consisting of ecology, culture, milieu, and social system dimensions, was selected for its comprehensiveness. The SSGS was developed by the researcher with the assistance of teachers and school administrators who were graduate students in the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan. It was tested on a sample of 100 students in the College of Education and revised, prior to its use in the study. The sample included 36 Saskatchewan schools. School grade patterns included urban and rural elementary and high schools, and rural K-12 schools. The SSCS was mailed to all school-based educators in the sample. School division directors of education were mailed a summary school climate assessment form, the DASC. The researcher also visited and recorded school climate data in a subsample of four schools. Using Cronbach's alpha, it was found that the SSCS had adequate internal consistency for scale (.92) and scale dimensions (.72 to.83). Factor analysis showed that there was only one factor. School climate appears to be a single complex, concept, composed of at least four intercorrelated dimensions. Correlations between SSCS and other measures supported its validity. Pearson correlations between SSCS and DASC (.70) and between the SSCS and teacher job satisfaction (.46) were significant. For the subsample, correlations between SSCS and observation data and between SSCS and student attitude toward school data were significant. Multiple regression was used to examine the effects of demographic variables on school climate. Two school variables, staff gender composition and student grade pattern, were significant. Elementary schools and schools with proportionately more female educators had more positive climates. Two personal variables, staff position and experience in the school division, were significant. Principals, and educators who had more experience in the division, reported more positive school climate. Schools with more positive climates generally had less variability in climate scores. Educators also reported that their perceptions of the school's climate had changed over time. Several recommendations relating to research, theory, and practice were also presented.