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Abstract

Abstract,The primary goal of this two paper dissertation is to gain an understanding about the specific factors that promote classroom belonging and engagement in high school classrooms. The first study examines the qualitative experiences of 32 high school students to understand what belonging in a high school classroom means to them and the factors that promote belonging and engagement. Constructivist Grounded Theory method was used to examine high school students’ experiences in their favorite and least favorite ninth grade classes and the practices that foster classroom belonging and engagement. Findings from this study indicate that teachers create a classroom community of engaged learners by simultaneously fostering relationships and constructing a learning environment. Creating a classroom community of engaged learners is an important classroom factor for promoting students’ classroom belonging and engagement. The second study is to investigate the association between the teaching practices identified in the first study and their relationship to a newly constructed survey measure called Classroom Community of Engaged Learners. This study used a three-level hierarchical linear model analysis with a sample of 16,039 ninth grade students attending Chicago Public School during 2014-15 academic year and responded to a student survey called My Voice My School (MVMS). Results indicate a small positive relationship to students perceiving they are in a classroom community with the teaching practices: teacher support and having lessons organized well and structured. The school level indicators (SES and Teacher-Student Trust) were not related to students’ perceiving they were in a classroom community of engaged learners, suggesting that despite school culture and climate, teachers have the capacity to build classroom communities despite the context they are in. ,Keywords: classroom belonging, engagement, community, high school, transitions

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