Predictors of Sense of Belonging for Students with Psychological Conditions
Mackie, Michele Matteo
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The purpose of this study was to develop a portrait of students with psychological conditions, to determine the predictors of sense of belonging for these students, and to draw comparisons between the collegiate experiences of students with, and those without, psychological conditions. Using data from the 2009 Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership, a sample of students who self-reported having a psychological condition and a randomly selected comparative sample of students without psychological conditions were drawn. Descriptive statistics were used to develop a portrait of students with psychological conditions relative to gender, class standing, academic performance, and co-curricular student involvement. Chi-square tests for independence and independent groups t-tests were used to make comparisons between students with psychological conditions and those who did not report having a psychological condition. Using a hierarchical multiple regression, framed in Astin's (1993) I-E-O model, predictors of sense of belonging were identified for students with psychological conditions and the comparative sample. Equality of beta coefficient testing was conducted to determine if the variables that predict sense of belonging for students who self-reported a psychological condition differed significantly from the predictors of sense of belonging for the comparative sample. Results indicated that the distribution of students with psychological conditions differed significantly across categories related to gender, class standing, college GPA, and involvement in specific types of co-curricular activities. Additionally, students who self-reported a psychological condition reported lower perceptions of sense of belonging compared to those who did not. The regression analyses and equality of beta coefficient testing revealed that there are no significant differences between the variables that predict sense of belonging for students with psychological conditions and the comparative sample. Implications for practice and directions for future research emphasize the need for better understanding the issue of college student mental health and developing interventions that can be applied in and outside of the classroom to assist students with psychological conditions in collegiate success.