Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Marjorie Montague

Second Committee Member

Batya Elbaum

Third Committee Member

Kent Burnett

Fourth Committee Member

Randall Penfield


This study explored the relationship between attachment quality and school connectedness in a high school sample of adolescents. Although there is a literature related to adolescent attachment quality and its effects on adjustment and development, relatively little attention has been paid to the relationship between parent and peer attachment and school connectedness. Further, these attachments and connections have yet to be examined among general and special education populations. Attachment quality has been correlated with identity development, self-esteem, competence, and psychopathology and has been investigated as a mediator in the relation between risk and resilience. School connectedness centers around the theory that when adolescents perceive consistent personal power, attention, and praise, they develop a sense of attachment to their school environment. Further, school connectedness, attachment to family, and positive peer bonds, respectively, have been viewed as protective factors, i.e., preventing adolescents from engaging in health risk behaviors (i.e., violence, risky sexual behavior, drug use, and dropping out of school) (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). The present study included 157 students, aged 15 to 18 years who participated in a longitudinal study (The Longitudinal Study of Co-morbid Disorders in Children and Adolescence). Using quantitative methodologies, analyses examined the relationships among gender, ethnicity, risk status and parent attachment, peer attachment, and school connectedness. Measures included self-report questionnaires of attachment quality and school connectedness in adolescence. Several major findings from the present investigation include: (1) higher ratings of attachment to parents were associated with higher ratings of school connectedness; (2) higher ratings of attachment to peers were associated with higher ratings of school connectedness; (3) students at risk reported less school connectedness than not at risk students; and (4) the effects of peer attachment on school connectedness were moderated by risk group.


Emotional And Behavioral Disorders; At Risk Youth; School Connectedness; Attachment Quality