Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

School Belonging of Adolescents: The Role of Teacher-Student Relationships, Peer Relationships and Family Involvement *

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

School Belonging of Adolescents: The Role of Teacher-Student Relationships, Peer Relationships and Family Involvement *

Article excerpt

The sense of school belonging has received growing attention from researchers of adolescent social and academic development. In the last decade, international adolescent and school journals have published an increasing number of studies that have documented significant associations between the sense of belonging in a variety of social contexts and an array of indicators of adolescent development (Jose, Ryan, & Pryor, 2012). However, Booker (2004, p. 1) has pointed out that "there is much that we know about school belonging, but even more that we stand to learn."

In an effort to understand the consequences of a presence or absence of school belonging, the field of education has examined various factors that can influence student behavior and performance in various student groups (Chapman, Buckely, Sheehan, & Shochef, 2013; Goodenow & Grady, 1993; Johnson, 2009; Osterman, 2000; Waters, Cross, & Shaw, 2010). In these studies, schools, teachers, peers, families, and communities have been used as key social domains in which to examine school belonging; however they have rarely been studied together. Research also revealed that the sense of belonging is attained through mutually beneficial social relationships between a student and his/her peers and teachers (Finn, 1989; Meloro, 2005). Within this perspective, it is believed that the focus is not simply on one particular relationship, but on a minimum quantity of lasting and positive interpersonal relationships, by emphasizing "the need for belonging" as a fundamental human motivation (Meloro, 2005; Schlanger, 1998). Specifically in a school setting, students, teachers, parents, and peers constitute the most important determinants of a student's education, and all these have some effect on an adolescent's feelings toward school and to some extent determine their social and academic competence at school (Osterman, 2000; Wentzel et al., 2010; Voelkl, 1997).

Life at school might be described as complex and multi-faceted. There are many different domains involved in school, including classroom social and learning dynamics. In the school community, classrooms are seen as social contexts in which various interactions occur amongst adolescents. Adolescent interactions with teachers and peers in these social contexts impact their sense of school belonging, as well as their social and emotional adjustment, engagement, academic motivation, and learning (Corso, Bundick, Quaglia, & Haywood, 2013; Wentzel, 1999). Moreover, positive and supportive relationships with teachers and peers promote an adolescents' sense of school belonging, which engender the will to participate cooperatively in classroom and school activities. Beyond teachers and peers, families provide the main source of socialization for adolescents attending school. Also family involvement and attitudes toward school have a positive effect on a student's sense of school belonging. Research has shown that family involvement facilitates a student's identification with their schools and teachers, and these students are more likely to report the perception of being accepted and supported by the school community (Clark, 1983; Jose et al., 2012; Law, Cuskelly, & Carroll, 2013; Osterman, 2000; Wickery, 2010).

In the relevant literature, research has shown that there are gender differences when it comes to a student's sense of belonging. It has been found that girls have greater sense of belonging than boys, and that the relationship between expectancies for success and sense of belonging are stronger for girls than they are for boys (Goodenow, 1993; Goodenow & Grady, 1993; Sanchez, Colon, & Esparza, 2005). These gender differences were explained in relation to the varying socialization processes for girls versus those for boys (Goodenow, 1993). Given that a sense of belonging is important for adolescent wellbeing, research has shown that adolescent girls give more importance to group membership, as well as relatedness and connectedness to others, while competition and autonomy are more important for boys (Newman, Newman, Griffen, O'Connor, & Spas, 2007; Sanchez et al. …

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