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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Cultivating connection to school among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade youth

Janis L. Whitlock, PhD, MPH, Family Life Development Center, Cornell University, Beebe Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, 607-254-2894, jlw43@cornell.edu

Most material and demographic indicators suggest that adolescents are better off than they were prior to the 1990’s. There have not been, however, similar advances in all areas of adolescent psychosocial health, particularly when long term trends are taken into account. A growing body of research suggests that feeling “connected” to individuals and community institutions is a critical, often missing, factor in adolescent psychosocial well-being (Blum and Rinehart, 2001; McNeeley and Famci, 2003; Commission on Children at Risk 2003). This study used quantitative and qualitative data to investigate contextual correlates (referred to as “developmental supports”) of connectedness to school among 318 8th, 10th, and 12th grade adolescents. It relies on a novel concept of youth “connectedness” that encompasses those qualities consistently identified as important aspects of interpersonal and civic relationships in social capital literature: trust, respect, and positive regard for another’s well being (Coleman 1988; Putnam 2000). The findings suggest that a) contextual variables such as meaningful opportunities for engagement, relationships with adults, and academic interest in school settings trump demographic variables in explaining connectedness scores, b) perceived connectedness to school increases as the number of developmental supports increase regardless of the nature of the support, and c) altering relationships between students and adults in combination with institutional policies can have a profound effect on youth perceptions and performance in schools.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Positive Youth Development: Practical School-Based Programs

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA