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Using Photovoice to Explore School Connection and Disconnection

csResearch strongly supports school connectedness as important in promoting healthy youth development. Most of the research to date has used surveys to assess school connectedness; however, PhotoVoice, a community-based participatory action research method, offers a unique way of engaging youth voices on their lived experiences of school connectedness. Such a method has potential to uncover areas related to connectedness that may not be captured by surveys. Few studies have incorporated PhotoVoice to explore school connectedness among youths.

A recent issue of the journal Children & Schools, published by NASW Press, includes an article which describes a school–university collaboration that used PhotoVoice to examine the elements of the school environment that foster connection and disconnection to school. Seven high school students took pictures over a three-week period and shared and discussed their pictures in a focus group. Data analysis examined the pictures, picture captions, and focus group discussion and six broad themes emerged: The natural environment and classes and clubs fostered school connection. The dress code policy, school building appearance and maintenance, and lunchroom elicited feelings of disconnection. Students’ perceptions of the academic environment created feelings of both connection and disconnection.

The author concludes the article with implications for future research and practice. By going beyond traditional surveys, researchers find new aspects of school connectedness and confirm known components of connection.

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The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & Schools, Health & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print. You can find out more about the journals and subscriptions at this link.

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