Abstract: Does Teacher Support Moderate the Influence of Microaggressions on Adolescents’ Grades and Feelings of Self-Esteem? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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158P Does Teacher Support Moderate the Influence of Microaggressions on Adolescents’ Grades and Feelings of Self-Esteem?

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
M. Annette Clayton, PhD, Associate Professor & Internship Director, Virginia Wesleyan University, Virginia Beach, VA
Jennifer Murphy, MS, MSW, Doctoral Student, Virginia Commonwealth University
Background: Research consistently highlights the negative impact of microaggressions on adolescents’ behavior and academic performance in the school setting. Experiencing microaggressions often lead to poor academic outcomes and a decrease in emotional wellbeing. However, there has been limited research that explores the protective role of teacher support. The aim of our study was to examine if teacher support acted as a moderator between microaggressions and students’ grades and self-esteem and to determine if there were any racial and gender differences in the study sample.

Methods: Researchers analyzed School Success Profile (SSP) cross-sectional data collected between the 2009-10 and 2013-14 school years from students (N = 5,171) in grades 6 through 9 enrolled in 17 schools, from one urban and one rural community, in North Carolina. The two dependent variables were self-reported grades and self-esteem. Independent variables were experiences of microaggressions (cumulative), gender identity, and race. The moderator for the study was level of perceived teacher support. We conducted two linear regression models, one for each dependent variable, then ran two models with teacher support as the moderator.

Results: In the sample, identifying as male (b = -.32, t(5) = -8.74, p < .001) and increased microaggressions (b = -.03, t(5) = -8.67, p < .001) predicted lower self-reported grades. We also found that identifying as male (b = .46, t(5) = 6.35, p < .001), Black (b = .72, t(5) = 6.96, p < .001), and experiencing increased microaggressions (b = -.096, t(5) = -15.40, p < .001) predicted lower self-esteem.

The first moderation model explained a significant proportion of variance in grades (R2 = .07, F (7,3703) = 38.63 p < .001). Teacher support (b = .07, t(3703) = 5.41, p = < .001) predicted higher grades and identifying as male predicted lower grades (b = -.29, t(3703) = -8.65, p < .001). In this sample, test for moderation confirmed that teacher support moderated the influence of microaggressions on grades (ΔR2 < .01, F (1, 3703) = 7.33, b = -0.0017, t(3703) = -2.71, p = .007).

The second moderation model explained 11.04% of the variance in self-esteem (F (7, 4655) = 82.52, p < .001). Teacher support (b = .19, t(4655) = 7.58, p < .001), identifying as male (b = .53, t(4655) = 8.02, p < .001), and identifying as Black (b = .76, t(4655) = 7.42, p < .001) predicted self-esteem. In this sample, test for moderation determined that teacher support moderated the influence of microaggressions on self-esteem (ΔR2 < .01, F (1, 4655) = 6.82, b = -.003, t(4655) = -2.61, p = .009).

Implications: Findings illuminate the deleterious influence of microaggressions on adolescents’ grades and self-esteem and the critical role teacher support may play in buffering the negative impact microaggressions have on adolescents' grades and self-esteem. Our findings also support the need for school social workers to focus more effort on interventions designed to bolster teachers’ abilities to identify and provide psychosocial support to adolescents experiencing microaggressions.