Methods: A purposive sample of 297 high school students were sampled during a school-wide needs assessment. Participants were on average 16.1 (SD=1.373) years old and evenly split across gender, with females making up the majority (52.9%). The sample was also evenly distributed across grade levels: ninth (26.3%), tenth (21.2%), eleventh (31.3%), and twelfth (20.9%).
Because the measure was developed without an a priori factor structure, we used exploratory factor analysis to examine how items coalesced. We used maximum likelihood as our extraction method as our data were normally distributed (Costello & Osborne, 2005). We selected an oblique factor rotation method, promax with Kaiser normalization, because we felt some factors could be correlated. An examination of the scree plot, eigenvalues, communalities, and factor loadings were used to determine the number of factors and items retained. Cronbach’s alpha was calculated for reliability.
We began with an item pool of 34 and identified a 22-item scale across three factors, after eliminating items with communalities below .4 and loadings below .32. Each factor was above the “bend” on the scree plot and had Eigenvalues above 1. We named Factor 1, “Interpersonal Negotiation.” Factor 2 is named “Coping and Social Problem-Solving Skills for Schools.” The final factor is named “Perspective Taking: Understanding Expected School Behaviors.”
The measure had acceptable levels of internal consistency: Interpersonal Negotiation (α=.937), Coping and Social Problem Solving Skills for Schools (α=.892), and Perspective Taking: Understanding Expected School Behaviors (α=.841).
Implications: These findings indicate that impoverished urban youth may perceive social communication within a school context in three areas. This indicates that student perceptions of social communication in educational settings may be nuanced as compared to professional or parental viewpoints. School social workers, and other related-services personnel, may implement more timely and targeted social communication interventions leading to theoretically improved postsecondary outcomes through understanding student perceptions. Further validation studies are needed to ensure the SSCSS maintains acceptable and appropriate levels of reliability and factorial validity. Future studies should also compare scores form this measure to other social communication scales already in use. In addition, future research should focus on scale scoring and interpretation and how this can be used in interdisciplinary practice. Future studies establishing clinical interpretations of scores are needed.