A new study has come out that I don’t think breaks much new research ground, but could be helpful in making educators and schools more aware of something we could all do more of – taking steps to help students feel more connected to school.

Examining high-school students’ motivation change through a person-centered approach. is the title of the paper (which is paywalled, but there are ways to access those kinds of papers if you are not part of a university – see The Best Tools For Academic Research).

Eureka Alert published a freely available summary: High school students tend to get more motivated over time.

Basically, the researchers found that high school students had various types of motivation. And that they tended to become more motivated over time.

And, here’s what I think is the most important part – as the above text box says, helping students develop a sense of belonging at school is the most effective strategy that schools can take to increase student motivation.

The study doesn’t really offer any suggestions of what that could look like, though plenty of other researchers do offer suggestions (see THE BEST RESOURCES FOR LEARNING HOW TO PROMOTE A SENSE OF “BELONGING” AT SCHOOL).

For example, this excerpt is from Sense of Belonging at School: Defining Attributes, Determinants, andSustaining Strategies:

Osterman (2010) used the expression academic support (teacher as instructional leader) to address the wide range of teaching strategies that positively influence students’ school belonging. Among these educational strategies Osterman (2010) suggested giving examples, checking for understanding, engaging in problem solving, and giving students’ choices. Osterman (2010) used another expression, personal support (teacher as a person), to emphasize the fact that effective teaching strategies are not enough alone to develop students’ school belonging. On a daily basis, teachers must show adequate interpersonal support because students perceive sound teaching partly through their teachers’ caring behaviors. Among many personal support behaviors, Osterman (2010) suggested offering students guidance, knowing students’ names, listening to students, using humor, and encouraging discussion.


These are strategies those of us who are teaching remotely or in-person can do, and they are definitely ones we are all  going to have to put on steroids if we hope to help students feel reconnected after things get back to “normal” post-pandemic….