Adolescents' perceptions of middle school: Relation to longitudinal changes in academic and psychological adjustment

Robert W. Roeser, Jacquelynne S. Eccles

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We present results of a longitudinal study of 1,046 adolescents in 23 middle schools that examined relations between adolescents' perceptions of their middle school learning environment during 8th grade (school goal structures, autonomy provisions, positive teacher regard) and changes in their academic motivation, achievement, and psychological adjustment from 7th to 8th grade. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that adolescents' school perceptions were significant predictors of their academic and psychological adjustment at the end of 8th grade after accounting for their demographic characteristics, prior academic ability, and prior adjustment assessed at the beginning of 7th grade. Perceptions of positive teacher regard and an emphasis on individual effort and improvement in school (school task goal structure) were associated with increases in academic values, feelings of academic competence, and academic achievement; and decreases in depressive symptoms from 7th to 8th grade. Perceived teacher regard also predicted diminished anger and school truancy and increases in self-esteem over time. Perceptions of an emphasis on competition and differential treatment by ability in middle school (school ability goal structure) were related to diminished academic values, feelings of self-esteem, and academic achievement; and increases in school truancy, anger, and depressive symptoms over time. The developmental significance of adolescents' perceptions of middle school for multiple aspects of their adjustment is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-158
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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