School connectedness: a qualitative case study through an occupational lens

Thumbnail Image
O'Leary, Jennifer
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Background: School connectedness is an under researched concept in all professions. While the term “belonging” has been used within occupational science, “connectedness” is not a term frequently used. To date, there is one study based on school connectedness and occupation and there is no study in an Irish context. The relationship, if any, between occupation and school connectedness is not understood. Given the strong position of belonging in occupational science, this concept must be understood in a school context. Since the passing of Ann Wilcock (1940-2019), there has been a call for research which continues to build on her Occupational Perspective of Health (doing, being, becoming, belonging). This study aims to do so within a school context. Aim/ Objectives: This research study had three aims; 1) To better understand students and their school’s personnel perceptions of school connectedness 2) To further understand what determines a student’s sense of connectedness to the school environment according to the students and the school personnel 3) To explore the relationship between student’s school-based occupations and their sense of school connectedness. Study Design: This research study is a qualitative single instrumental case study. This study commenced by an entire sixth class group completing a creative exercise to elicit data. Ten students engaged in a focus group and individual semi-structured interviews. This study also had four school personnel engage in individual semi-structured interviews. Thematic data analysis was conducted. Findings: Four themes emerged from the findings; 1) The Importance of the Student’s Social Context on School Connectedness 2) Occupational Influence on School Connectedness 3) Co-constructing an Environment for School Connectedness 4) How Community Connectedness is Reflected in the School. Conclusions: This study established a new perspective of school connectedness through an occupational lens. School connectedness is necessary for enhancing every student’s school occupational performance. Findings outline that due to the impact school connectedness has on occupational participation, occupational therapists should promote school connectedness through a whole school approach. Findings enhance the need to consider the value of interdependence as an outcome to practice.
School connectedness , Belonging , Occupational therapy , School-based practice
O’Leary, J. 2022. School connectedness: a qualitative case study through an occupational lens. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.