Assessing Students' Views of School Climate: Developing and Validating the What's Happening In This Class (WHITS) Questionnaire
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This article describes the development and validation of a six-scale survey to assess school climate in terms of students’ perceptions of the degree to which they feel welcome and connected, together with a scale to assess students’ perceptions of bullying. The development of each survey involved a multi-stage approach, including: 1) an extensive review of research related to school climate to identify components that can be considered important for effective schools made up of diverse students; 2) elucidating the scales identified in step one; and 3) writing individual items within the scales. Items from previously validated questionnaires were examined and, if appropriate, adapted. We used Trochim and Donnelly’s (2006) framework for construct validity to guide the validation of the new questionnaire. When the questionnaire was administered to a sample of 4067 high school students from eight schools, various statistical analyses ensured the questionnaire’s discriminant, convergent, concurrent and predictive validity.
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