Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Malecki, Christine K.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Students’ experiences in school, specifically experiences of academic success, have a lasting impact on their future outcomes, such as future academic achievement, employment and financial stability, and reduced risk of substance use in adolescence and psychopathology in adulthood. However, there are a number of risk factors that affect students’ academic outcomes, such as low socioeconomic status (SES). The literature consistently demonstrates discrepancy in academic outcomes for students from different SES backgrounds, such as students from lower SES background entering high school with lower reading skills and having higher high school dropout rates in comparison to students from higher SES background. These findings highlight the need in identifying protective factors that could mitigate the negative effects of low SES on students’ academic outcomes. While the general benefits and the protective role of social support are well-established in the existing literature, limited evidence is available regarding the role of social support in the association between family SES level and student academic outcomes. A previous study (Malecki & Demaray, 2006) demonstrated that students’ level of perceived social support moderated the association between low SES and academic performance among middle school students, where academic performance of students from lower SES background that perceived higher levels of social support did not differ from those from higher SES background. The current study sought to elucidate the buffering role of social support in the association between socioeconomic status and academic outcomes by considering the sources of support and the gender of the youth. The results demonstrated that students’ SES background was significantly associated with GPA, perceptions of parental social support moderated the association between SES and students’ negative attitudes towards school, and the associations between SES background and academic outcomes did not differ between male and female students. Implications of the findings, and suggestions for future research are discussed.


90 pages




Northern Illinois University

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