Students' Experiences and Teachers' Perceptions of Student Belonging in One Elementary School

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O'Shea, Karen
Teachers' Perceptions , Belonging , Fitting In , Students' Experiences at School
Belonging is a fundamental human need and this need is universal (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). How a student perceives their own belonging within a school and classroom can be predictive of their future engagement, motivation, achievement, and success of their interpersonal relationships. Students who feel connected are found to be less likely to engage in risky behaviours, be absent from school, or drop out of school entirely (Nichols, 2006; Anderman, 2003). Recent research on belonging has sought to examine the relationship between belonging and its outcomes on student behaviour (Anderman, 2003; Clegg, 2006; Goodenow, 1993; Ma, 2003; Osterman, 2000). There is an increasing need for belonging research to examine the development and incidence of belonging in children at school (Johnson, 2009; Osterman, 2000). This study has three research questions: a) What are students’ experiences with belonging in the school? b) What are teachers’ perceptions of students’ belonging in the school? c) How do the students’ experiences and teachers’ perceptions of student belonging in the school compare? The comparison of teachers’ and students’ responses will provide more information as to whether the students’ experiences and teachers’ perceptions of student belonging are aligned or if they are disparate. This data will make it possible to begin to target specific belonging factors in school programs and teacher practices.
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