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The Centrality of Connectedness: A Conceptual Synthesis of Attending, Belonging, Engaging and Flowing

  • Terence Bowles (a1) and Janet Scull (a2)

Over the past decade, researchers have called for a reconceptualisation of school connectedness. A review of literature between 1990 and 2016 was completed to define school connectedness and identified four factors: attending, belonging, engaging, and flow. The review of the published literature from 1990 to 2016 that related to the four factors was undertaken to define each of these terms and their relevance to school connectedness.

Subsequently, based on the four factors, a sequential, four-level model of school connectedness was proposed. The model suggests a progression from minimal connection to a deep level of acculturation and shared meaning relevant for adolescents between 12 and 18 years of age. It is argued that the four factors form the foundation for engagement and suggests the possibility of an experience of flow as a result of a student's connectedness with school. The literature on which the model is based draws together social, emotional, behavioural, and cognitive terms central to learning. The purpose of the review is to move beyond individual factors to propose an explanation for the sequence of graduated connection. Practically, the model provides a template for establishing the student's current experience of school to facilitate interventions to optimise connectedness with school.

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Corresponding author
address for correspondence: Terence Bowles, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, 100 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia. Email:
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