Promoting Social Belonging in the Transition to High School


The transition from middle school into high school is a critical period for future academic success for rising ninth grade students. During this time period, students — especially those from historically disadvantaged and underrepresented groups — may question whether or not they belong in their school environment.

The Motivate Lab has partnered with a rural public high school in Virginia to administer a novel video intervention targeting student perceptions of belonging. Lab researchers are in the process of collecting data from the second cohort of participants to test if this brief intervention can improve students’ sense of belonging and academic performance, among other outcomes. The study will evaluate the role perceived belonging plays in the context of secondary education, especially in response to race-based violence in the community. Initial results suggest the intervention increases perceptions of student belonging. If these results hold, the Motivate Lab will collaborate with the high school to integrate the intervention more fully into school curricula.

Project Status: 2016-Present

Funding Source: Jefferson Public Citizens