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School Engagement and Attendance as Pathways to Adolescent Health

Rankine, Jacquelin Michele (2023) School Engagement and Attendance as Pathways to Adolescent Health. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Adolescent health and education are closely linked and were substantially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall goal of this dissertation was to build understanding of adolescents’ emerging and interrelated health and educational needs and identify multilevel factors that contribute to or protect against chronic absenteeism and school disengagement. First, we used group-based trajectory modeling to identify high school attendance trajectories before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and investigate the effects of school-level practices on these attendance trajectories. We identified three attendance trajectory subgroups: stable high attendance, acutely declining attendance, and chronically declining attendance. Receipt of school discipline was associated with decreasing school attendance across all subgroups. Participation in a college readiness program was associated with an increase in school attendance only in the acutely declining attendance subgroup. Next, we used social network analysis to evaluate the relationship between adolescents’ social networks and their school engagement across the transition from middle to high school. Teachers, network-based supports, and highly school engaged peers were associated with greater school engagement. Greater peer network density was associated with lower school engagement. School-based supports including teachers and highly engaged peers were more strongly associated with school engagement for males. Finally, we used longitudinal structural equation modeling to explore the strength and directionality of associations between school engagement and psychological wellbeing throughout the high school years. Between-person and within-person correlations between school engagement and psychological wellbeing were frequently observed. Within-person autoregressive effects of both school engagement and psychological wellbeing on future levels of these variables were identified, with more consistent effects in the later high school years. A cross-lagged effect from psychological wellbeing to school engagement across the high school transition was identified in some but not all models. Collectively, these studies increase our understanding of school attendance and engagement during a unique developmental stage and in the context of a global pandemic that has had significant and lasting impacts on adolescent education, health, and wellbeing. Results can inform interventions at interpersonal, school, or larger structural levels to collectively promote health and education in adolescence and throughout the life course.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rankine, Jacquelin Michelejmr274@pitt.edujmr2740000-0002-8072-6762
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSwitzer, Galen
Committee CoChairMiller, Elizabeth
Committee MemberCoulter, Robert
Committee MemberCulyba, Alison
Committee MemberDudovitz, Rebecca
Date: 14 November 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 June 2023
Approval Date: 14 November 2023
Submission Date: 28 June 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 109
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Clinical and Translational Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: attendance; absenteeism; school engagement; adolescent health; social network analysis
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2023 17:19
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 17:19


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