Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Dr Neil Drew


The transitional nature of adolescence predisposes the adolescent to the effects of evolving biopsychosocial development changes. However, these transitional processes do not occur in isolation in the adolescent. Using a systems approach, this paper examined the issues surrounding adolescents' sense of belonging (SoB) at school. SoB was identified as a means of providing an understanding of belongingness as a linking and stabilising mechanism for adolescents as they successfully negotiate their biopsychosocial changes. SoB at school appears to be positively reflected in the adolescents' peer competencies, student-teacher relationships, motivation and achievement, participation skills, and the ability to relate to the school environment. An examination of the literature, pertaining to the risk and protective factors associated with adolescence, suggested that a SoB at school contributes to the development of such factors as the adolescents' relationship skills, and to problem-solving abilities. Conversely, when adolescents experience deficits in a SoB at school, there is a sense of alienation and isolation, and a loss of identity and self-esteem. Much of the literature examined involved the use of qualitative methodologies to examine adolescent students' SoB. Recently this focus has changed as is reflected in several qualitative studies that examined adolescents’ SoB in the school environment relative to specific problem issues. The need was identified for future normative research in adolescents' SoB at school.