Where does culture belong at school? Exploring the role of individualism and power distance in school belonging across cultures

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Johnson, Rebecca G, Allen, Kelly-Ann ORCID: 0000-0002-6813-0034 and Gallo Cordoba, Beatriz ORCID: 0000-0002-7335-4534 (2023) Where does culture belong at school? Exploring the role of individualism and power distance in school belonging across cultures. Current Psychology. ISSN 1046-1310


The relationship between culture and school belonging has rarely been examined relative to student and school-level factors. This study explored whether culture, measured through individualism and power distance, plays a role in school belonging across countries. The study, designed to separate the effects of within-school teacher support from country-level effects, was conducted on a cross-cultural sample of 413,575 students drawn from 53 countries. Initial analysis of the 2018 PISA survey data and Hofstede's cultural dimensions suggested that individualism and teacher support were negatively associated, whereas power distance was positively associated with teacher support. However, although higher teacher support was linked with higher levels of belonging, both culture measures had a negative total association with belonging. Further analysis indicated that teacher support was positively associated with belonging within schools, while at a country level, students reported lower levels of belonging in countries with higher teacher support. The overall negative relationship between power distance and belonging could be attributed to the negative indirect effect of country-level teacher support. Moreover, results showed that students' perception of cooperation at school, experiences of bullying, and perceptions of a disruptive disciplinary climate were all significant predictors of school belonging. Findings also indicated that individualism and power distance at the country level also had significant effects on school belonging. These findings underscore the need for multifaceted interventions to improve school belonging. This includes enhancing teacher support, fostering a cooperative school environment, mitigating bullying, and advocating for equitable education policies with full consideration of context-specific implications. This study illuminates the complex interplay between school belonging, teacher support, and cultural factors, emphasising the importance of distinguishing between within-school and country-level effects.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/47478
DOI 10.1007/s12144-023-05280-y
Official URL https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-0...
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3904 Specialist studies in education
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5205 Social and personality psychology
Current > Division/Research > Mitchell Institute
Keywords school belonging; cross-cultural research; power distance; teacher support
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