Sense of belonging to school: Can schools make a difference?

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Using education survey data from 6, 883 Grade 6 students in 148 schools and from 6, 868 Grade 8 students in 92 schools in New Brunswick, Canada, the author applied student and school characteristics to explain differences among students and schools regarding students' sense of belonging to school. Results of hierarchical linear modeling showed that in Grades 6 and 8, discrepancies in students' sense of belonging were mainly within schools, rather than between schools. At the student level, sense of belonging in both grades was affected more by students' mental and physical conditions and less by their individual and family characteristics. Students' self-esteem was the single most important predictor of their sense of belonging, followed by their health status. At the school level, school climate (academic press or expectation in Grade 6 and disciplinary climate in Grade 8) was more important than school context in shaping students' sense of belonging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-349
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Educational Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2003


  • School climate
  • Self-esteem
  • Students' sense of belonging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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