Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Susan M. Swearer

Date of this Version

Spring 4-2019

Document Type



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education (School Psychology), Under the Supervision of Professor Susan M. Swearer. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2019

Copyright 2019 Allen Ghyslaen Garcia


Bullying is a serious, complex problem that affects school-aged youth. Years of research on bullying has provided evidence that bullying victimization is linked with adverse outcomes for youth; however, researchers have yet to fully investigate how bullying victimization and maladjustment is associated with student engagement, and whether teacher support is a protective factor for victimized youth. A social-ecological perspective was used to guide the study given that a person’s bullying behaviors are related and interconnected to a network of systems and relationships in their environment.The purpose of the study was to investigate middle school students’ perspectives on bullying victimization (i.e., verbal/relational and physical), social and emotional maladjustment, student engagement (i.e., affective and cognitive indicators), and teacher support. Participants were 11-14 year-old students from an independent school in a mid-sized Western city. Path analysis was used to analyze five research questions. Bullying victimization and social and emotional maladjustment were correlated with student engagement. Social and emotional maladjustment was evaluated as a mediator between bullying victimization and engagement. Teacher support was evaluated as a moderator of the relationship between bullying victimization and engagement, and teacher support was also examined within a moderated mediation model. The findings indicated that bullying victimization and maladjustment can be risk factors for affective student engagement. Teacher support can be a positive factor foroverall student engagement, and there was limited evidence found that teacher support acts as a protective factor between bullying victimization and student engagement. Victimization and maladjustment tended to be unrelated to cognitive engagement. No evidence was found for mediation of social and emotional maladjustment explaining the relationships between bullying victimization and student engagement. Further, no evidence was found that teacher support moderated the pathways in the mediation model between bullying victimization and maladjustment. These results extend the broader literature on bullying victimization and its associations with school-related variables and may have implications for encouraging bullying prevention and intervention. Study limitations are discussed along with research and clinical implications.

Advisor: Susan M. Swearer