Disaggregating between- and within-classroom variation in student behavior: A multilevel factor analysis of teacher ratings of student prosociality and aggression

Aja Louise Murray*, Ingrid Obsuth, Manuel Eisner, Denis Ribeaud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Teacher ratings of student behaviors vary systematically both at the student and teacher/classroom level. Multilevel confirmatory factor analysis (ML-CFA) can disaggregate between- and within-teacher/classroom variance, identify an optimal psychometric model at each level, and test correlates of the resulting dimensions. In this study, 250 teachers (37% males) rated an average of 4.02 students (51% males; aged 10 years at Time 1 and 11 years at Time 2) from a normative sample of Swiss youth. Substantial and unidimensional between-teacher variation in ratings of both prosociality and aggression were identified, and this was stable across time. These dimensions were not associated at the between-teacher/classroom level with teacher gender or teacher–student relationships, although they were associated with teacher-student relationships at the within-teacher/classroom level. There was little between-teacher/classroom variation observed in student self-reports of prosocial and aggressive behavior, and multilevel CFA was not possible for these ratings. Future research should aim to identify sources of between-teacher/classroom variation. This should include factors that influence negative and positive teacher perceptions of and response biases related to student behavior as well as those that influence student behavior itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1019
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Volume39
Issue number7
Early online date7 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Keywords

  • multilevel confirmatory factor analysis
  • prosociality
  • aggression
  • teacher gender
  • teacher relationships

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