• child and adolescent health;
  • curriculum;
  • evaluation;
  • instructional programs



This study was a part of an evaluation of a 4-year high school course to enhance students' school connectedness from freshman to senior year with primarily an Asian and Pacific Islander student body in Hawai‘i. The purpose of this study was to understand how the course may impact students' sense of school connectedness and identify factors important in course effectiveness.


Focus group guides were developed in collaboration with course instructors. Approximately 70 students from each grade level were randomly selected to participate in focus groups. All focus groups occurred during the 30-minute lunch period and lunch was provided.


Focus groups conducted with 67 students revealed that students perceive teachers to play an essential role in the effectiveness of the course. Students also viewed the small class size and staying in the same class for all 4 years as important components in supporting the relationship-building aspect of the course, which enhances students' level of academic motivation and school involvement. Suggestions for ways that teachers can help build students' sense of school connectedness through the course included integrating their personal experiences into the lessons and facilitating more interactive discussions and team-building activities.


Our findings suggest that students recognize the course as a valuable opportunity to build personal relationships that are essential to their sense of school connectedness. Schools should make more effort at incorporating strategies that build students' sense of school connectedness by providing relationship-building opportunities.