Exploring racial/ethnic identity as a mediator for the relationship between classroom diversity and school belonging
School belonging has been linked to many positive outcomes, including academic engagement, intrinsic motivation, and general self-esteem. However, most research studying school belonging has not directly examined the roles that classroom composition and racial/ethnic identity play. As American schools become increasingly racially/ethnically diverse, it is critical to consider the effect of these diverse classrooms on an individual’s feeling of school belonging. This present study examines the relationship between classroom racial/ethnic composition and school belonging. Further, the study proposes that an individual’s racial/ethnic identity will partially mediate the relationship between classroom composition and school belonging. We recruited 50 participants from two high schools in rural Eastern Oregon. Participants completed a series of measures to examine their racial/ethnic identity, sense of school belonging, and perceptions of school diversity. Classroom composition did not predict school belonging, nor was the relationship mediated by an individual’s racial/ethnic identity. However, we did find that an individual’s racial/ethnic identity significantly predicted their sense of school belonging. The present study contributes to a growing body of research that explores the implications of an increasingly diverse school environment and its implications for student development.
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