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Vaz S.,Curtin University Australia | Falkmer M.,Curtin University Australia | Falkmer M.,Institution of Disability Research Jonkoping University | Ciccarelli M.,Curtin University Australia | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

It is unknown if, and how, students redefine their sense of school belongingness after negotiating the transition to secondary school. The current study used longitudinal data from 266 students with, and without, disabilities who negotiated the transition from 52 primary schools to 152 secondary schools. The study presents the 13 most significant personal student and contextual factors associated with belongingness in the first year of secondary school. Student perception of school belongingness was found to be stable across the transition. No variability in school belongingness due to gender, disability or household-socio-economic status (SES) was noted. Primary school belongingness accounted for 22% of the variability in secondary school belongingness. Several personal student factors (competence, coping skills) and school factors (low-level classroom task-goal orientation), which influenced belongingness in primary school, continued to influence belongingness in secondary school. In secondary school, effort-goal orientation of the student and perception of their school's tolerance to disability were each associated with perception of school belongingness. Family factors did not influence belongingness in secondary school. Findings of the current study highlight the need for primary schools to foster belongingness among their students at an early age, and transfer students' belongingness profiles as part of the handover documentation. Most of the factors that influenced school belongingness before and after the transition to secondary are amenable to change. © 2015 Vaz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source


Vaz S.,Curtin University Australia | Cordier R.,Curtin University Australia | Boyes M.,Curtin University Australia | Parsons R.,Curtin University Australia | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

An important characteristic of a screening tool is its discriminant ability or the measure's accuracy to distinguish between those with and without mental health problems. The current study examined the inter-rater agreement and screening concordance of the parent and teacher versions of SDQ at scale, subscale and item-levels, with the view of identifying the items that have the most informant discrepancies; and determining whether the concordance between parent and teacher reports on some items has the potential to influence decision making. Cross-sectional data from parent and teacher reports of the mental health functioning of a community sample of 299 students with and without disabilities from 75 different primary schools in Perth, Western Australia were analysed. The study found that: a) Intraclass correlations between parent and teacher ratings of children's mental health using the SDQ at person level was fair on individual child level; b) The SDQ only demonstrated clinical utility when there was agreement between teacher and parent reports using the possible or 90% dichotomisation system; and c) Three individual items had positive likelihood ratio scores indicating clinical utility. Of note was the finding that the negative likelihood ratio or likelihood of disregarding the absence of a condition when both parents and teachers rate the item as absent was not significant. Taken together, these findings suggest that the SDQ is not optimised for use in community samples and that further psychometric evaluation of the SDQ in this context is clearly warranted. © 2016 Vaz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source


Vaz S.,Curtin University Australia | Falkmer M.,Curtin University Australia | Falkmer M.,Institution of Disability Research Jonkoping University | Parsons R.,Curtin University Australia | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

The relationship between school belongingness and mental health functioning before and after the primary-secondary school transition has not been previously investigated in students with and without disabilities. This study used a prospective longitudinal design to test the bi-directional relationships between these constructs, by surveying 266 students with and without disabilities and their parents, 6-months before and after the transition to secondary school. Cross-lagged multi-group analyses found student perception of belongingness in the final year of primary school to contribute to change in their mental health functioning a year later. The beneficial longitudinal effects of school belongingness on subsequent mental health functioning were evident in all student subgroups; even after accounting for prior mental health scores and the cross-time stability in mental health functioning and school belongingness scores. Findings of the current study substantiate the role of school contextual influences on early adolescent mental health functioning. They highlight the importance for primary and secondary schools to assess students' school belongingness and mental health functioning and transfer these records as part of the transition process, so that appropriate scaffolds are in place to support those in need. Longer term longitudinal studies are needed to increase the understanding of the temporal sequencing between school belongingness and mental health functioning of all mainstream students. © 2014 Vaz et al. Source


Vaz S.,Curtin University Australia | Falkmer M.,Curtin University Australia | Falkmer M.,Institution of Disability Research Jonkoping University | Ciccarelli M.,Curtin University Australia | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

School belongingness has gained currency among educators and school health professionals as an important determinant of adolescent health. The current cross-sectional study presents the 15 most significant personal and contextual factors that collectively explain 66.4% (two-thirds) of the variability in 12-year old students' perceptions of belongingness in primary school. The study is part of a larger longitudinal study investigating the factors associated with student adjustment in the transition from primary to secondary school. The study found that girls and students with disabilities had higher school belongingness scores than boys, and their typically developing counterparts respectively; and explained 2.5% of the variability in school belongingness. The majority (47.1% out of 66.4%) of the variability in school belongingness was explained by student personal factors, such as social acceptance, physical appearance competence, coping skills, and social affiliation motivation; followed by parental expectations (3% out of 66.4%), and school-based factors (13.9% out of 66.4%) such as, classroom involvement, task-goal structure, autonomy provision, cultural pluralism, and absence of bullying. Each of the identified contributors of primary school belongingness can be shaped through interventions, system changes, or policy reforms. © 2015 Vaz et al. Source


Vaz S.,Curtin University Australia | Wilson N.,University of Western Sydney | Falkmer M.,Curtin University Australia | Falkmer M.,Institution of Disability Research Jonkoping University | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Objective: Teachers' attitudes toward inclusion are often based on the practical implementation of inclusive education rather than a specific ideology and understanding of inclusiveness. This study aimed to identify the factors associated with primary school teachers' attitudes towards inclusion of students with all disabilities in regular schools. Method: Seventy four primary school teachers participated in a cross-sectional survey conducted in Western Australia. Teachers' attitudes and efficacy toward integration of students with disabilities were measured using the Opinions Relative to Integration of Students with Disabilities scale and Bandura's Teacher Efficacy scale respectively. Results: Four teacher attributes-age, gender, teaching self-efficacy and training collectively explained 42% of the variability in teachers' attitude toward including students with disabilities. Conclusion: The current study further contributes to the accumulation of knowledge that can unpack the complex pattern of factors that should be considered to promote positive attitudes towards inclusive schools. Copyright: © 2015 Vaz et al. T |. Source

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