Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Edsel L. Erickson

Second Advisor

Dr. Lewis Walker

Third Advisor

Dr. Carol Smith


Assessed in this study were the effects of perceived normative climate within the home on school suspension, under varying conditions of ethnicity and social class. The guiding objective of this investigation was to determine whether certain perceived family academic normative climates can reduce or eliminate the commonly found association of socio-economic status or minority-nonminority status with suspension from school.

The contention herein is that the literature on family climate in general has application for the study of suspension. In order to do this, however, a conceptual typology of various types of normative climate, drawn from a symbolic interactionist perspective, is presented in this paper. Student perceptions of parental expectations, surveillance and reinforcement were assessed as they operate in conjunction with each other to impact on suspension from school.

The data used in this study were collected longitudinally on approximately 1600 students. Data were compiled from both questionnaire responses and school records while students were in the ninth through twelfth grades. T-tests for differences of proportions and the L-test of monotonicity were used to test a number of hypotheses aimed at determining the nature of the association between family normative climate and suspension, controlling for SES and ethnicity.

It may be tentatively concluded, as a result of this study, that students are differentially suspended from school on the basis of the ascribed characteristics of social class and minority status. Lower socio-economic status and/or minority students are more likely to have a higher rate of suspension than upper SES and/or nonminority students, regardless of family climate. Between the two status variables, the apparent impact of socio-economic status on school suspension is overshadowed by the much stronger association of minority-nonminority status with suspension.

However, it may also be concluded that there is an association between perceived family academic normative climate and suspension from school. Students who perceive primarily negative normative climates at home are more likely to be suspended from school than are students who perceive positive normative climates. Minority students are less likely to be suspended from school if they perceive positive normative climates at home than if they perceive primarily negative climates. However, minority students are still more likely to be suspended than nonminority students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access