Creating Connectedness Through Being Known: Fulfilling the Need to Belong in U.S. High Schools

Vichet Chhuon, Tanner Le Baron Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


A multidisciplinary body of literature has established that students' affective relationships with teachers are associated with important academic and developmental outcomes. In this article, we explored late adolescents' active interpretations of what we call "being known" in high school. Distinct from a generalized perception of the school environment, namely, sense of school belonging, the concept of being known may provide a cohesive and efficient framework for understanding the intersections of developmental tasks, psychosocial perceptions, and effective teaching. Our focus group data with adolescents (M = 16.65 years old, N = 77) yielded three robust findings (a) moving beyond "just teach" teacher relationships; (b) providing instrumental support; and (c) engaging a benefit-of-the-doubt treatment of students. We examined each of these key themes to probe how connectedness is created or undermined through the moment-by-moment experiencing of relational structures characterized by students' perceptions of being known by adults in an educational context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-401
Number of pages23
JournalYouth and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • School connectedness
  • adolescence
  • being known
  • belonging
  • high school
  • student-teacher relationships


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