Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2013


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



School Psychology


School of Education

Committee Chair

Laura Crothers

Committee Member

James B. Schreiber

Committee Member

Ara J. Schmitt


belonging, elementary, intervention, Project: TEAM, school, school-wide


School belonging is a construct that describes student connections to school via a student's social and emotional attachments to others at school, commitment to adhering to school rules, involvement in school activities, and belief systems related to how much school is valued (Hirschi, 1969; Wehlage et al, 1989). Research has consistently found connections between higher levels of school belonging and more favorable life outcomes in regard to academics, behavior, attendance, school completion, and mental health. Research has also provided suggestions regarding components that should be present for programs to effectively enhance school belonging. Despite this, few research-based programs exist that have been designed specifically to address this construct. This study examined the efficacy of components of a new school-wide teambuilding program, titled Project: TEAM, for improving school belonging amongst elementary-age children following one school year of implementation. In addition, the study examined the differential effects of the program based on student grade level and gender. Pre- and post-intervention surveys of school belonging were collected from 137 students at an intervention (n = 82) and a comparison (n = 55) school in south-central Pennsylvania. The results of a repeated-measures ANOVA found no significant difference in school belonging between students at the intervention versus comparison school. Follow-up independent sample t-tests revealed that students at the comparison school reported significantly higher levels of school belonging than students at the intervention school at baseline but not on post-surveys. Thus, the components of Project: TEAM appeared to have assisted students at the intervention school with closing the gap in reported levels of school belonging that was identified on baseline surveys. Additional analyses indicated no significant difference in reports of school belonging based on grade level; however, male students did report significantly higher levels of school belonging than female students. Though most results in this study were not significant and effect sizes were small, the study provided preliminary evidence suggesting that the efficacy of Project: TEAM for improving school belonging should be examined further on a longitudinal basis. Implications of the findings, as well as limitations and recommendations for future research are considered.