Understanding and Supporting the School Transitions of Military-Connected Adolescents in Canada

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Authors
Hill, Shannon L. D.
Keyword
Frequent relocations , School transitions , Adolescent , Parent , Educator , Policy , Programming , Canada
Abstract
Background: For adolescents, participation in school has been shown to have important and positive influences on their health and well-being. However, participation in school can be impacted by a variety of factors, such as living in a military family. American research has indicated that ongoing stressors associated with living in a military family, such as frequent relocations and associated school transitions, put military-connected adolescents at an increased risk of experiencing vulnerabilities, especially if they have special education needs. To date, there have been limited research efforts to understand the school transition experiences of adolescents from Canadian military families. Purpose: The purpose of this dissertation was to (1) provide an in-depth, multi-perspective understanding of the school transition experiences of adolescents from Canadian military families and (2) identify key areas of consideration to inform future policy and programming development to support the school transition experiences of adolescents from Canadian military families. Methods: A qualitative-dominant multiphase mixed methods design was used. In Phase One, an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study was conducted. Demographic surveys and individual-semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from adolescents, parents, and educators. In Phase Two, a mixed methods study was conducted. A questionnaire and a focus group were used to collect data from staff members of Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs). Findings: In comparison to younger children, the findings of this dissertation suggest that frequent relocations and constant school transitions can have greater social and academic implications for military-connected adolescents, especially if they have special education needs. The findings of this dissertation also shed light on key areas of consideration to inform future policy and programming development to support the school transition experiences of adolescents from Canadian military families. Conclusion: Currently, there is emphasis being placed within Canadian defence policy to support military families and reduce the implications of their high mobility. Moving forward, more research is needed within Canada to better understand the school transition experiences of military-connected students, particularly those with special education needs, to ensure future efforts across policy and programming are evidenced informed.
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