Date of Conferral





Human Services


Randy S. Heinrich


In the United States, approximately 45% of high school students are either not engaged (28%) or actively disengaged (17%) in the academic process. Increasing a school's average student engagement yields an increase in reading and math achievement. This study evaluates a school connectedness program, Promoting Positive School Engagement (PPSE) program using a convergent mixed methods model to determine the degree of effectiveness measured by the Hemingway measure of adolescent connectedness instrument in an Urban, Midwest public middle school. Quantitative data were collected from 20 students who participated in the program and 20 students who did not (control group). Analyzed using ANCOVA, the results showed that participation in PPSE significantly increased student connectedness. Qualitative data were collected from six student program participants and five program staff through interviews. Content analysis of interview data showed that a youth's connectedness is a response to relatedness and belonging, a reflection of adolescents' perceptions of their involvement in events, organizations, and activities. Additionally, participants reported a greater connectedness to school through the development of positive mentor/mentee relationships. The results of this study may assist others in developing similar programs at their schools to enhance students' school connectedness.