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Teachers’ understanding of school connectedness : implications for the development and implementation of school based injury prevention strategies

Chapman, Rebekah L., Buckley, Lisa, & Sheehan, Mary C. (2010) Teachers’ understanding of school connectedness : implications for the development and implementation of school based injury prevention strategies. In 27th International Congress of Applied Psychology, 11-16 July 2010, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Victoria. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Aim: Worldwide, injury is the leading cause of death and disability for young people. Injuries among young people are commonly associated with risk taking behaviour, including violence and transport risks, which often occur in the context of alcohol use.

The school environment has been identified as having a significant role in shaping adolescent behaviour. In particular, school connectedness, the degree to which adolescents feel that they belong and are accepted at school, has been shown to be an important protective factor. Strategies for increasing school connectedness may therefore be effective in reducing risk taking and associated injury.

Prior to developing connectedness strategies, it is important to understand the perspectives of those in the school regarding the construct and how it is realised in the school context. The aim of this research was to understand teachers’ perspectives of school connectedness, the strategies they employ to connect with students, and their perceptions of school connectedness as a strategy for risk taking and injury prevention.

Method: In depth interviews of approximately 45 minutes duration were conducted with 13 Health and PE teachers and support staff from 2 high schools in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Additionally, 6 focus group workshop discussions were held with 35 Education department employees (5-6 per group), including teachers from 15 Southeast Queensland high schools.

Results: Participants were found to place strong importance on the development of connectedness among students, including those at risk for problem behaviour. Strategies used to promote connectedness included building trust, taking an interest in each student and being available to talk to, and finding something positive for students to succeed at. Teachers identified strategies as being related to decreased risk taking behavior. Teacher training on school connectedness was perceived as an important and useful inclusion in a school based injury prevention program.

Conclusions: The established link between increased school connectedness and decreased problem behaviour has implications for school based strategies designed to decrease adolescent risk taking behaviour and associated injury. Targeting school connectedness as a point of intervention, in conjunction with individual attitude and behaviour change programs, may be an effective injury prevention strategy.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 34096
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Promotion (111712)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 the Authors
Deposited On: 13 Aug 2010 10:31
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2013 09:39

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