Students’ Sense of Belonging in Urban Junior Secondary Schools in Bangladesh: Grades, Academic Achievement and School Satisfaction

  • Ahsan HabibEmail author
  • Saira Hossain
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 44)


While much study has focused on external variables such as poverty and child labour to document high dropout, absenteeism and poor academic achievement in the secondary schools of Bangladesh, little research has been undertaken to elucidate these issues from students’ psycho-emotional perspectives.The present study explores students’ sense of belonging to school and its correlation with student achievement and school satisfaction. Seven schools participated in this study with 869 boys and 574 girls from junior/lower secondary years 6, 7 and 8. The Bangla version of the Psychological Sense of School Membership (PSSM) Scale (Goodenow, Psychol Schools 30(1):79–90, 1993) was used to measure students’ sense of belonging to school. The findings indicate positive and significant relationships among school satisfaction, academic achievement and school belonging. The findings have important implications for both pedagogical practice and intervention programmes, emphasising strong social environment in school and illustrating students’ psychosocial component as an important aspect of school outcomes.


Sense of belonging Academic efficacy Academic achievement School satisfaction 


  1. Aerts, S., Van Houtte, M., Dewaele, A., Cox, N., & Vincke, J. (2012). Sense of belonging in secondary schools: A survey of LGB and heterosexual students in Flanders. Journal of Homosexuality, 59(1), 90–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmed, M., Ahmed, K. S., Khan, N. I., & Ahmed, R. (2007). Access to education in Bangladesh: Country analytic review of primary and secondary education. Dhaka, Bangladesh: BRAC University Institute of Educational Development (BU-IED).Google Scholar
  3. Anderman, L. H. (2003). Academic and social perceptions as predictors of change in middle school students’ sense of school belonging. The Journal of Experimental Education, 72(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker, J. A., Dilly, L. J., Aupperlee, J. L., & Patil, S. A. (2003). The developmental context of school satisfaction: Schools as psychologically healthy environments. School Psychology Quarterly, 18, 206–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics [BANBEIS]. (2013). Basic statistics. Retrieved on March 13, 2013, from
  6. Baulch, B. (2011). The medium-term impact of the primary education stipend in rural Bangladesh. Journal of Development Effectiveness, 3(2), 243–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumeister, R. F. (2012). Need-to-belong theory. Handbook of theories of social psychology. In P. A. M. V. Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 121–141). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497–529. Scholar
  9. Benner, A. D., & Graham, S. (2007). Navigating the transition to multi-ethnic urban high schools: Changing ethnic congruence and adolescents’ school-related affect. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17, 207–220. Scholar
  10. Booker, K. (2007). Likeness, comfort, and tolerance: Examining African American adolescents’ sense of school belonging. The Urban Review, 39(3), 301–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Causton-Theoharis, J., & Theoharis, G. (2008). Creating inclusive schools for all students. The School Administrator, 65(8), 24–25.Google Scholar
  12. Cemalcilar, Z. (2010). Schools as socialisation contexts: Understanding the impact of school climate factors on students’ sense of school belonging. Applied Psychology, 59(2), 243–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cheung, H., & Hui, S. (2003). Mainland immigrant and Hong Kong local students’ psychological sense of school membership. Asia Pacific Education Review, 4(1), 67–74. Scholar
  14. Chowdhury, J. H., Chowdhury, D. K., Hoque, M. S., Ahmad, S., & Sultana, T. (2009). Participatory evaluation: Causes of primary school drop-out in education. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Directorate of Primary Education.Google Scholar
  15. Diener, E., Diener, M., & Diener, C. (1995). Factors predicting the subjective well-being of nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 851–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ding, C., & Hall, A. (2007). Gender, ethnicity, and grade differences in perceptions of school experiences among adolescents. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 33(2), 159–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eccles, J. S., & Roeser, R. W. (2009). Schools, academic motivation, and stage-environment fit. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology: Individual bases of adolescent development (3rd ed., pp. 404–434). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Eccles, J. S., Wigfield, A., Midgley, C., Reuman, D., MacIver, D., & Feldlaufer, H. (1993). Negative effects of traditional middle schools on students’ motivation. The Elementary School Journal, 93, 553–574. Scholar
  19. Finn, J. D. (1989). Withdrawing from school. Review of Educational Research, 59(2), 117–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goodenow, C. (1993). The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30(1), 79–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Habib, A. (2015). Exploring young Bangladeshi students’ sense of belonging to school: A phenomenological study. Doctoral dissertation. Clayton, Australia: Monash University. Retrieved from
  22. Habib, A., & Hossain, S. (2013). Exploring students’ sense of belonging in secondary schools of urban Dhaka. In M. T. Ahsan (Ed.), International conference on inclusive education (p. 51). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Asian Centre for Inclusive Education (ACIE).Google Scholar
  23. Hagborg, W. J. (1994). An exploration of school membership among middle- and high school students. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 12(4), 312–323. Scholar
  24. Hallinan, M. T. (2008). Teacher influences on students’ attachment to school. Sociology of Education, 81(3), 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hossain, N. (2010). School exclusion as social exclusion: The practices and effects of a conditional cash transfer programme for the poor in Bangladesh. The Journal of Development Studies, 46(7), 1264–1282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huebner, S. (2001). Multidimensional students’ life satisfaction scale. Retrieved from
  27. Jiang, X., Huebner, E. S., & Siddall, J. (2013). A short-term longitudinal study of differential sources of school-related social support and adolescents’ school satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 114(3), 1073–1086.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Margalit, M. (2010). Lonely children and adolescents self-perceptions, social exclusion, and hope. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396. Scholar
  30. McMahon, S. D., Parnes, A. L., Keys, C. B., & Viola, J. J. (2008). School belonging among low-income urban youth with disabilities: Testing a theoretical model. Psychology in the Schools, 45(5), 387–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Midgley, C., Maehr, M. L., Hruda, L. Z., Anderman, E., Anderman, L., Freeman, K. E., … Middleton, M. J. (2000). Manual for the patterns of adaptive learning scales. Retrieved from
  32. Moallem, I. (2013). A meta-analysis of school belonging and academic success and persistence. Retrieved from
  33. Nichols, S. (2008). An exploration of students’ belongingness beliefs in one middle school. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76(2), 145–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. O’Neel, C. G., & Fuligni, A. (2013). A longitudinal study of school belonging and academic motivation across high school. Child Development, 84(2), 678–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Osterman, K. F. (2010). Teacher practice and students’ sense of belonging. In T. Lovat, R. Toomey, & N. Clement (Eds.), International research handbook on values education and student wellbeing (pp. 239–260). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reilly, J. E. R., & Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2009). Perceived stress and sense of belonging in doctor of nursing practice students. Journal of Professional Nursing, 25(2), 81–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78. Scholar
  38. Sabates, R., Hossain, A., & Lewin, K. M. (2010). School dropout in Bangladesh: New insights from longitudinal evidence. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Institute of Educational Development–BRAC University.Google Scholar
  39. Sabates, R., Hossain, A., & Lewin, K. M. (2013). School drop out in Bangladesh: Insights using panel data. International Journal of Educational Development, 33(3), 225–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sapyta, J. (1997). Conceptions of well-being in independent and interdependent cultures: Shall the twain ever meet? BS thesis. Urbana/Champaign: University of Illinois.Google Scholar
  41. Schurmann, A. T. (2009). Review of the Bangladesh female secondary school stipend project using a social exclusion framework. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 27(4), 505–517.Google Scholar
  42. Tillery, A., Varjasa, K., Roachb, A., Kuperminc, G., & Mayers, J. (2013). The importance of adult connections in adolescents’ sense of school belonging: Implications for schools and practitioners. Journal of School Violence, 12, 134–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Uwah, C., McMahon, H., & Furlow, C. (2008). School belonging, educational aspirations, and academic self-efficacy among African American male high school students: Implications for school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 11(5), 296–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Walker, C. O., & Greene, B. A. (2009). The relations between student motivational beliefs and cognitive engagement in high school. The Journal of Educational Research, 102(6), 463–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2007). A question of belonging: Race, social fit, and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 82–96. Scholar
  46. Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science, 331(6023), 1447–1451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wehlage, G. G., Rutter, R. A., Smith, G. A., Lesko, N., & Fernandez, R. R. (1989). Reducing the risk: Schools as communities of support. London: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  48. Whitlock, J. L. (2006). Youth perceptions of life at school: Contextual correlates of school connectedness in adolescence. Applied Developmental Science, 10, 13–29. Scholar
  49. World Bank. (2013). Bangladesh education sector review seeding fertile ground: Education that works for Bangladesh. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  50. You, S., Ritchey, K. M., Furlong, M. J., Shochet, I., & Boman, P. (2011). Examination of the latent structure of the psychological sense of school membership scale. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 29(3), 225–237. Scholar
  51. Zullig, K. J., Huebner, E. S., & Patton, J. M. (2011). Relationships among school climate domains and school satisfaction. Psychology in the Schools, 48(2), 133–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Education and ResearchUniversity of DhakaDhakaBangladesh

Personalised recommendations