Bored with school: An exploration of young persons' experiences of becoming disengaged from school and attending alternative provision

Prof Doc Thesis

Muscat, M. 2017. Bored with school: An exploration of young persons' experiences of becoming disengaged from school and attending alternative provision. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Psychology
AuthorsMuscat, M.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Student disengagement is a multidimensional construct consisting of cognitive, behavioural and affective dimensions. Whilst past research has addressed factors which lead students to become disengaged from school, little research has focused on identifying what works to prevent student disengagement.
This research aimed to explore the views of young persons in their final year of compulsory schooling and who were attending an Alternative Learning Programme (ALP). The research also aimed to develop a theory which could explain the process of student disengagement. In order to investigate this process, grounded theory was used to analyse the data collected from the interviews. A mixed methods research design was applied. The quantitative approach involved the distribution of a questionnaire to all the students attending the ALP to collect demographic information, to inform which areas to explore in the qualitative approach and to select participants for the following phase. The data was analysed through SPSS and descriptive statistics were produced. In the qualitative approach, ten semi-structured interviews were carried out. The participants answered questions about their engagement at school. The emergent theory states that student disengagement is likely to occur when there is an interaction between the variables; unmet needs, unappealing curriculum and hostile relationships. The participants attributed reengagement in learning at the ALP to vocational subjects which were considered as practical and hands-on. Students also considered the curriculum as appropriate for their level. School staff were perceived as caring and supportive and this was key to making them develop a sense of belonging at school. The findings from this research indicate the strong impact teachers have on their students. Thus, teachers need to increase their awareness on how much they can influence their students. Finally, when students find their learning as useful, relevant, and are able to succeed, they are more likely to be engaged at school.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintApr 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Sep 2017
Publisher's version
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