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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Back to school : re-engagement from the adolescent perspective Bendell, Jacqueline


School absenteeism and disengagement is a growing concern among adolescents in North America. However, numerous students have been successful in reengaging into school and completing their education. As such, the purpose of this research was to contribute to literature on school re-engagement by exploring an adolescent perspective of the experiences that were helpful and unhelpful in returning to school. This qualitative study employed the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique (ECIT; Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, & Amundson, 2009) to answer the following central research question: What meaningful experiences do adolescents perceive as influencing their high school re-engagement? More specifically, three sub-questions were addressed (a) What do adolescents perceive as being helpful in the re-engagement process? (b) What do adolescents perceive as being unhelpful in the re-engagement process? (c) What do adolescents feel would have been helpful during the time of their re-engagement? Semi-Structured interviews were conducted with 16 adolescents, ages 14-18, who had successfully re-engaged in high school after a period of problematic school absenteeism. Using a set of standardized procedures to analyze participants’ interview data, 14 meaningful categories emerged as being facilitative or hindering of the school re-engagement experience. According to participants, in decreasing order of importance, helping, hindering, and wish list categories included (a) teacher variables, (b) perspective shift, (c) emotional distress, (d) peer relationships, (e) family factors, (f) problem resolution, (g) sleep, (h) school factors, (i) consequences, (j) professional supports, (k) goal attainment, (l) extracurricular activity, (m) substance use, and (n) other priorities. Results of this study have important implications for training and practice. Moreover, directions for future research are discussed.

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