Thomas Knight

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2015


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counseling, Psychology, & Special Education


School of Education

Committee Chair

Tammy Hughes

Committee Member

Kara McGoey

Committee Member

Gibbs Kanyongo


context, culture, prosocial behavior, race, violence prevention


Acts of aggression and violence within the school setting have compelled researchers and professionals to develop and implement interventions designed to cultivate student safety. Recently, the focus of these interventions has been on prosocial behaviors, which are broadly defined as acts intended to benefit others above oneself and can include actions such as helping and cooperating (Batson & Powell, 2003). From a theoretical perspective, previous researchers (Piaget, 1932; Kohlberg, 1984) have generally postulated that moral reasoning and its corollaries (e.g., prosocial behavior) generally develop according to a prescribed trajectory. Yet, additional research in this area has supported the notion that cultural and contextual influences play an important role in one's proclivity to act prosocially (e.g., Ellis & Boyce, 2008; Snarey, 1985). It is therefore imperative that culture and context be considered when designing interventions and assessments related to prosocial behaviors.

The Be a Safety Kid curriculum provides students in kindergarten through 8th grade with direct instruction intended to teach prosocial behaviors through the concept of responsible reporting, which entails communicating information regarding potentially dangerous situations. As part of the curriculum, the S.T.A.R. Instrument is utilized as a pre- and post-test assessment of the extent to which the curriculum has influenced the students' knowledge of prosocial behavior, anticipated performance of prosocial behavior, and feeling of school connectedness/safety. The current study sought to ascertain the extent to which the S.T.A.R. instrument measures the constructs of knowledge, performance, and school connectedness/safety similarly across cultural contexts by examining and comparing the underlying factor structure of the S.T.A.R. Instrument post-test results from students of different states, races, community types, and socioeconomic statuses. Results of confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) for 1st and 2nd grade suggest that the S.T.A.R. instrument does not consistently align with the constructs designed through its creation. The conclusions of this study will add to the existing literature base on prosocial behaviors and further highlight the importance of considering cultural and contextual factors when developing prosocial interventions and accompanying assessments.