Mediation and Moderation Among Student Voice, School Engagement, and Behavior in Schools
School engagement research often overlooks student voice as a critical component (Yonezawa, Jones, & Joselowsky, 2009) and researchers commonly find that students feel like their voices do not matter (Levin, 2000; Mitra, 2004). It follows logically that this would impact how students feel and behave toward the educators and adults in the school. The present quantitative study tested this hypothesis by investigating underlying relationships among (1) how students perceive their voice is heard and valued at school, (2) how engaged they feel in their classes and school activities, and (3) how both of these constructs might impact behavior incidents throughout the school. Furthermore, the analysis examined if the relationship differed by grade tier (elementary, middle, and high). The dataset used for this study was a school level file (127 schools) with aggregated student responses to a school climate survey, specifically the categories called “Student Voice” and “School Engagement.” School behavior rate (percentage of students who were in-school-suspended, out-of-school-suspended, or expelled) was then mapped onto the survey data. Mediation analysis was applied using Baron and Kenny’s method (1986) through a series of regressions with the three variables—Student Voice (predictor), Student Engagement (mediator), and School Behavior Rate (outcome)—and indicated that a mediating effect occurred. Additionally, moderation analysis was conducted with the fourth variable (Grade Tier) and found no interaction effects. These findings indicate that the relationship between Student Voice and School Behavior Rate is mediated by School Engagement, and that this relationship remains consistent across all grade tiers.