Supporting and thwarting interpersonal dynamics and student achievement: a multi-level examination of PISA 2015

Emma C. Burns, Andrew J. Martin*, Rebecca J. Collie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Stage-environment fit theory posits that the interpersonal dynamics and structural (i.e. school-level) resources afforded by a student's academic environment can either support or thwart student thriving (e.g. achievement). Thus, it is important to examine how these factors impact student achievement at the student- and school-level. This investigation utilized the 2015 PISA data set (N = 210,381 students in 7964 schools from 32 OECD countries) to examine the extent to which school belonging (supporting) and teacher unfairness (thwarting) predict students' achievement (in reading, mathematics, and science) at both the student- and school-level. Findings indicate that at the student-level (but not school-level), teacher unfairness significantly thwarts achievement; in contrast, at the school-level (but not the student-level), school-belonging significantly supports achievement. These findings suggest that distinct interpersonal dynamics differentially impact achievement more saliently either at the student- or school-level - underscoring the importance of conducting multilevel modelling when investigating these social phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-378
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Issue number4
Early online date26 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • PISA 2015
  • achievement
  • school belonging
  • teacher unfairness
  • multi-level modelling
  • stage-environment fit

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