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Open Access Research article

Reliability and validity of the Student Perceptions of School Cohesion Scale in a sample of Salvadoran secondary school students

Andrew E Springer1*, Amy McQueen2, Guillermo Quintanilla3, Marcela Arrivillaga4 and Michael W Ross5

Author affiliations

1 Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, Austin, Texas, USA

2 Division of Health Behavior Research, Washington University, School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

3 Departamento de Educación para la Salud, Universidad de El Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador

4 Departamento de Ciencias Sociales. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali, Cali, Colombia

5 Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas School fo public Health, Houston Campus, Houston, Texas, USA

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Citation and License

BMC International Health and Human Rights 2009, 9:30  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-30

Published: 25 November 2009

Abstract

Background

Despite a growing body of research from the United States and other industrialized countries on the inverse association between supportive social relationships in the school and youth risk behavior engagement, research on the measurement of supportive school social relationships in Central America is limited. We examined the psychometric properties of the Student Perceptions of School Cohesion (SPSC) scale, a 10-item scale that asks students to rate with a 5-point Likert-type response scale their perceptions of the school social environment, in a sample of public secondary school students (mean age = 15 years) living in central El Salvador.

Methods

Students (n = 982) completed a self-administered questionnaire that included the SPSC scale along with measures of youth health risk behaviors based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Exploratory factor analysis was used to assess the factor structure of the scale, and two internal consistency estimates of reliability were computed. Construct validity was assessed by examining whether students who reported low school cohesion were significantly more likely to report physical fighting and illicit drug use.

Results

Results indicated that the SPSC scale has three latent factors, which explained 61.6% of the variance: supportive school relationships, student-school connectedness, and student-teacher connectedness. The full scale and three subscales had good internal consistency (rs = .87 and α = .84 for the full scale; rs and α between .71 and .75 for the three subscales). Significant associations were found between the full scale and all three subscales with physical fighting (p ≤ .001) and illicit drug use (p < .05).

Conclusion

Findings provide evidence of reliability and validity of the SPSC for the measurement of supportive school relationships in Latino adolescents living in El Salvador. These findings provide a foundation for further research on school cohesion and health risk behavior in Latino adolescents living in the U.S. and other Latin American countries.