Neighborhood & Family Effects on Learning Motivation among Urban African American Middle School Youth

Damiya Whitaker, Camelia Graham, Stevan Geoffrey Severtson, C. Debra Furr-Holden, William Latimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motivational theorists in psychology have moved away from individual-based approaches to socio-cognitive and socio-ecological models to explain student engagement and motivation for learning. Such approaches consider, for example, the influence of family and neighborhood environments as important constructs in youth behavior. In this study, links between neighborhood condition (e. g. external appearance of the blocks nearest to the respondents' home), family dysfunction, and motivation for learning are investigated. Data were obtained from two hundred and sixteen (216) urban African American middle school children enrolled in a substance use prevention intervention. Analytic models show associations between poor neighborhood condition, and both family dysfunction and lower learning motivation, and poor neighborhood condition and lower learning motivation. Family dysfunction was also found to mediate the effect of neighborhood condition on motivated learning. Neighborhood and family characteristics are important determinants of urban schoolchildren's motivation for learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Environmental exposure
  • Learning
  • Structural equation
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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