Fostering school belonging in secondary schools using a socio-ecological framework

Kelly-Ann Allen, Dianne Vella-Brodrick, Lea Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


The benefits of belonging and feeling connected to school for adolescent mental health and wellbeing are well documented, but how belonging is fostered is less understood. The present article puts forward a new conceptual framework of school belonging based on Bronfenbrenner's (1979) sociological model of human development, using evidence from a range of previous peer-reviewed studies to better understand the factors that occur across five levels that affect a students' sense of school belonging (i.e., the individual level, the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, and the macrosystem). The conceptual framework is used to present a range of evidence-based school belonging strategies (some with examples) that schools can use to enhance student belonging. This article makes an original contribution to the field of psychological and educational research by presenting a socio-ecological framework to explore the themes that influence school belonging within a secondary school system. It broadens the frame of reference of school belonging beyond the individual student to consider features of the broader school system and environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-121
Number of pages25
JournalEducational and Developmental Psychologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • academic motivation
  • belonging
  • school belonging
  • school connectedness
  • school leadership
  • Rethinking school belonging: a socio-ecological framework

    Allen, K-A., Vella-Brodrick, D. & Waters, L., 2018, Pathways to Belonging: Contemporary Research in School Belonging. Allen, K-A. & Boyle, C. (eds.). 1st ed. The Netherlands: Brill, p. 191-218 28 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)

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