Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Stacy L. Frazier

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Margaret H. Sibley

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Stefany Coxe

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jonathan S. Comer

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Self-concept, adolescents, randomized controlled trial, academic success

Date of Defense



Children and adolescents in under-resourced urban communities simultaneously experience higher rates of major life stressors, including mental health problems, and less access to the services needed to address these concerns. The combination of high need and few resources makes identifying broadly effective, resource-minimal interventions a critical goal. Amongst potential targets for intervention, academic success, particularly graduating from high school, predicts positive life outcomes across a wide range of health factors. To be effective in supporting academic success in under-served communities, an intervention must be universally applicable, inexpensive, and easy to deliver with fidelity. The current study examined the promise of self-concept as a potential lever for change in academic success for underserved youth. Beginning with an examination of the proposed theoretical model, which suggests that changes in non-academic self-concept in children and teens can lead to improved academic outcomes by improving academic self-concept and reducing mental health symptoms, the study then reports the findings of a randomized controlled trial testing a self-guided journal writing intervention targeting non-academic self-concept for students in a diverse, under-resourced urban high school. vii The intervention was delivered as a classroom assignment, and 89 9th grade students consented to provide academic data (75 also agreed to provide self-report data) and were randomized to the intervention or an active control condition. Findings did not indicate a significant effect of the intervention on student GPA at the end of the academic year; however, evidence for the validity of the theoretical model emerged. Thus, the current study offers implications for future research and intervention design targeting under served adolescents in urban high schools.





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