Basic information

Project manager: Bitte Modin
Period: 2015-01 – 2018-12
Funding: Vetenskapsrådet, Forte, Formas
Project members: Bitte Modin (CHESS), Sara Brolin Låftman (CHESS), Ylva Almquist (CHESS), Stephanie Plenty (Institute for Future Studies), Viveca Östberg (CHESS), Torbjörn Åkerstedt (Stress Research Institute), Kristiina Rajaleid (Stress Research Institute), Jannike Kjellström (CHESS), Gabriella Olsson (CHESS), Julia Sandahl (Department of Criminology)

Project description

The overall aim of this research project is to study students’ psychological health in relation to three sets of school-contextual conditions which have been subject to structural changes during the past decades in Sweden – school leadership, teachers’ working conditions, and school segregation. We assume that changes in these conditions have affected schools’ capacities to promote student health, and also that they have led to greater differences between schools in their capability of fulfilling this task. Other central assumptions underpinning the project are that school leadership is reflected in the degree to which a school (principal) has managed to implement features of so-called “effective schools”, that teacher working conditions are reflected in collegial support, work- strain, self-reported stress as well as stress-related sleeping patterns and health outcomes, and that school segregation can be “captured” through clusters of schools with certain student composition profiles.

Using new and unique data, we will test our overarching hypotheses that greater internalizing and externalizing problems among students are linked with inadequate school leadership, poor working conditions for teachers, and a high proportion of students with immigrant and socioeconomically disadvantaged background. We will also assess how these contextual conditions differ between schools, and whether they contribute to between-school differences in students’ psychological health. Guided by these hypotheses, the project will be broken down into four main research themes: a) School-contextual links to student health, b) The interaction between school-contextual conditions in relation to student health, c) Mediating or modifying pathways linking school-contextual conditions to student health, and d) Links between school-contextual conditions and student health across time.

The data material used consists of two waves of data collections performed in 2014 and 2016. Information derives from two different sources: teachers and students. The Teacher Survey is based on all senior-level teachers in 2014 (n=1287) and 2016 (n=1247) as well as all upper-secondary teachers in 2016 (n=1378). Student information comes from the Stockholm School Survey, a total sample of ninth- and eleventh-grade students in all public and most independent schools in Stockholm municipality. The linked data contains of almost 11 000 ninth-graders (2014 and 2016) and over 6 000 eleventh- graders (2016). The teacher-student merged data set contains information about 68 unique senior-level schools and 58 upper secondary schools in Stockholm. The main method of analysis will be multilevel and structural equation modelling. By combining the knowledge gained from these research themes, the project aims to produce insight into the relevance of a set of fundamental school-contextual features for contemporary Swedish students’ psychological health, risk behaviours and exposure to bullying in the aftermath of the 1990s school reforms, and to uncover some of the pathways through which such associations are likely to operate.