European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 273–294 | Cite as

School alienation and student well-being: a cross-lagged longitudinal analysis

  • Julia MorinajEmail author
  • Tina Hascher


School alienation is identified as a severe educational problem that hampers students’ academic journey. However, little is known about the concept’s interplay with other socio-emotional phenomena such as well-being. This longitudinal study explored the cross-lagged associations among alienation from learning, teachers, and classmates, and different dimensions of student well-being. To investigate the direction of the relationship between school alienation and student well-being, we used self-report instruments at two measurement points over a 1-year interval. Data were collected from a sample of 508 Swiss secondary school students from grade 7 to grade 8 participating in the “School Alienation in Switzerland and Luxembourg (SASAL)” research project. Controlling for gender differences, the results of latent variable modeling revealed considerable stability effects across time and a causal effect of school alienation on student well-being, whereas the reversed effect of student well-being on subsequent school alienation was nonsignificant. The three domains of school alienation were found to have different associations with six well-being dimensions. Alienation from learning had a negative impact on positive attitudes to school and enjoyment in school. Alienation from teachers negatively predicted positive attitudes to school and positively predicted worries and social problems in school. Alienation from classmates negatively influenced future positive attitudes to school and contributed to the prevalence of social problems in school. The findings provide empirical support for the importance of students’ feelings of alienation in determining students’ sense of well-being and imply that both academic and social aspects of schooling have a significant impact on young people’s stances toward school.


School alienation Student well-being Secondary school Longitudinal design Cross-lagged panel models 



First and foremost, we thank the students and teachers who continue to support our efforts to investigate school alienation within the “School Alienation in Switzerland and Luxembourg (SASAL)” research project. We would also like to thank the school principals for giving us access to their teachers and students. Second, we would like to thank the research assistants who supported us during the data collection and data entry processes.


The SASAL project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (100019L_159979) in Switzerland and the Luxembourg National Research Fund (INTER/SNF/14/9857103) in Luxembourg.


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© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Research in School and Instruction, Institute of Educational ResearchUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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