School Belonging, School Connectedness and Meaningful Student Involvement

The idea of school belonging and school connectedness is an old one that centers on the reality that the way students feel, see and experience schools affects their learning.

Since everyone needs to belong to something, it makes sense that students, who spend many hours in schools everyday, would want to feel belonging in that place, too. Its especially important for students to experience school belonging as they’re growing up, too, since this bond may form the trend for future experiences as they get older.

Research shows that school belonging looks like:

  • Feeling like a part of a community where learning, teaching and leadership happens
  • Experiencing feelings of “being personally accepted, respected, included and supported by others in the school environment” (Goodenow, 1993).

The phrase school belonging is the most common one in research. Others, like school connectedness or school bonding are used, too, but are less common. (Anderman and Freeman, 2004)

Many educators make an intuitive connection between school belonging and Meaningful Student Involvement, which is appropriate. With its focus on community building and democratic action, Meaningful Student Involvement is wholly dependent on school belonging.

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