Problem Statement: The sense of belonging to school can be described as the perception of students as individuals, respecting their existence, and supporting them in the social environment of the school. Academic achievement is a factor that is related to the sense of belonging to school. In many studies the direct link was revealed between sense of belonging to school and school attendance, preparation for school, fulfilling the given tasks and homework, and active participation in social and sports activities. Another factor related to sense of belonging to school is “leaving the school”. Due to all these reasons, valid and dependable measuring tools are needed for determining the primary school students’ (10-15 years old) sense of belonging to school.
Purpose of Study: This study developed a reliable and valid scale to assist in research related to the sense of belonging of students studying in primary schools in a Turkish context.
Methods: The sample of this study is composed of 781 students attending the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades of a primary school in Aydın. The sample was randomly divided into two parts. For the first half (N=387) explanatory factor analysis was carried out and for the second half (N=394) confirmatory factor analysis was performed. Students’ personal profile form, social support appraisals scale for children, and UCLA Loneliness Scale were implemented for the students.
Findings and Results: The data first were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis. Results yielded two different factors with eigenvalues of 4.2 and 1.9. This two-factor solution or structure accounted for 60.72 % of the total variance (32.72% and 28.01 %). Other results indicated that the factor loading of the items varied from .68 to .86. The item factor correlation values varied from .57 to .75. Additionally, the unpaired t-test findings from upper and lower groups of 27% for each factor indicated that there were significant differences between the groups. Ten items of SEBES were subjected to a confirmatory factor analysis. Although the obtained chi-square value was found to be meaningful (χ2 = 80.93; df= 34; p= 0.00, CFI=0.98, NNFI=0.97, RMSEA=0.059), when the compatibility indicators are examined it is observed that the two-factor structure of the Sense of Belonging to School Scale is in fine accordance with the sample data.
Conclusions and Recommendations:SEBES can be considered a valid and reliable tool for measuring primary students’ belongingness to school. Future research should be conducted to explore students’ sense of belonging to school based on this 2-factor model across different cultures.
Keywords: Sense of belonging to school, Loneliness, Perceived social support, Primary school.