Systems View of School Climate: a Theoretical Framework for Research

Kathleen Moritz Rudasill, Kate E. Snyder, Heather Levinson, Jill L. Adelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


School climate has been widely examined through both empirical and theoretical means. However, there is little conceptual consensus underlying the landscape of this literature, offering inconsistent guidance for research examining this important construct. In order to best assist the efforts of developing causal models that describe how school climate functions, we propose the Systems View of School Climate (SVSC). This theoretical framework was formed by deconstructing prior models and empirical research on school climate into themes and highlighting their implicit assumptions. Using the SVSC to synthesize this existing literature, school climate is defined as the affective and cognitive perceptions regarding social interactions, relationships, values, and beliefs held by students, teachers, administrators, and staff within a school. School climate is situated within Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner 1989) to guide future research in this domain and help specify levels of research or analysis, thereby providing utility as a theoretical framework for future causal models. The SVSC provides a roadmap for research by demarcating school climate from related constructs, suggesting related contextual and structural constructs, and delineating proximal and distal systems which may shape the nature of school climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-60
Number of pages26
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Ecological Systems Theory
  • School climate
  • Theoretical framework

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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