Impact of school-based interventions for building school belonging in adolescence: a systematic review

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    A student’s sense of school belonging is critical to school success, yet internationally, a large proportion of secondary students do not feel that they belong to their school. However, little is understood about how schools can address this issue, nor what evidence-based interventions are available to increase belonging among secondary school students. The aim of this study is to identify and critically review the evidence on school-based interventions that increase a sense of school belonging in adolescents. Seven electronic databases and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched from 1999 to February 2021 using ‘school belonging’ and ‘intervention’ amongst the key search terms. A total of 22 controlled trials were identified with 14 studies reporting effective school-based interventions for enhancing a sense of adolescent school belonging. Successful interventions targeted students’ strengths and promoted positive interactions between students and between school staff and students. Overall, this review found a paucity of interventions that intentionally aimed to develop adolescent school belonging. Inconsistencies in terminology use and definitions describing school belonging were identified even when similar measurement tools were utilised. Findings of this review have important practice implications and provide information to support schools to select evidence-based interventions to improve students’ sense of school belonging.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-257
    Number of pages29
    JournalEducational Psychology Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


    • Adolescence
    • Interventions
    • School belonging
    • Social and emotional learning
    • Systematic review

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