Factors affecting school connectedness among agricultural education students: A mixed methods study
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Each year, approximately 1.3 million students fail to graduate from high school. One of the reasons cited for dropping out is a lack of connection to the school environment. One way students can connect to their school is through programs and organizations at their school. While there are a large variety of programs in schools that have the potential to promote school connectedness among its students, the parallels to the school connectedness promotion factors present in the foundational principles of agricultural education evoke further investigation. This purpose of this study was to examine the influence that school connectedness promotion factors (i.e. adult support, peer group, commitment to education, and environment) in agricultural education programs have on students’ sense of school connectedness. This study utilized a two-phase sequential mixed methods design in which the qualitative data helped explain or build upon the initial quantitative results. The quantitative phase revealed approximately 45% of the variance of the school connectedness scale in the sample can be accounted for by the linear combination of promotion factor measures. Even when controlling for the other predictors, adult support (r = .32, p < .05) and commitment to education (r = .24, p < .05) were significantly correlated with school connectedness. At first glance, the themes from the qualitative phase closely aligned to the school connectedness promotion factors discussed in the quantitative phase. However, a few additions and modifications were recommended in future research based on the findings from the qualitative phase.