All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Scott Snyder

Advisory Committee Members

Fred Biasini

John Dantzler

Kay Emfinger

Deborah Strevy

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

This qualitative multiple case study explored the factors that contribute to the development of social belonging in the classroom for children who are homeless age's five to seven. Previous empirical research has shown the importance of children who are homeless developing belonging in the classroom and other research has shown the negative effects when belonging does not develop. However, little research has focused on what contributes or impedes children's ability to develop belonging in the classroom while they are homeless. My study filled a gap in the literature by identifying these contributing factors. This study was conducted in two family shelters and two schools in the southeastern United States. The participants included five mother/child pairs, five teachers associated with each child, and two counselors (one from each school). The data analysis was conducted on two levels, within-case and across cases. With-in case analysis was conducted for three cases (a) children; (b) mothers; and (c) teachers and counselors. Themes and subthemes emerged for each of the cases. Crosscase analysis revealed both similarities and differences between the cases. The themes that emerged from all three cases included (a) acceptance; (b) stability; (c) interaction; (d) support; (e) deterrents to social belonging; and (f) understanding of social belonging. Narrative descriptions of the overarching themes created a picture of the factors that contribute to the development of social belonging in the classroom for children who are homeless. Through this qualitative study, school administrators, teachers, counselors, and mothers may have a better understanding of what aids and what impedes the development of social belonging in the classroom for children who are homeless, especially children age's five to seven. This study provided teachers and counselors with practical ways to increase the likelihood of belonging developing in the classroom. Lessons learned can be applied by teachers to any classroom but especially to classrooms with children who are homeless.

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