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Are the kids alright? Toward best practices for students' successful transition to secondary school

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Numerous studies have demonstrated that the transition from primary to secondary school can be difficult for students (e.g., Benner et al., 2017). For example, many students are challenged by adjusting to a new school environment, new academic demands, and new social pressures (e.g., Chambers & Coffey, 2019; Jindal-Snape et al., 2020). Overall, there is a pressing need for empirical research to inform interventions for adolescents that can facilitate a smooth transition to high school (Bharara, 2020; Donaldson et al., 2023). To do so, it is important to better understand the challenges experienced by adolescents during the transition to high school, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of existing school transition programs. Using a longitudinal dataset of 798 grade 7 students from metro Vancouver, British Columbia, the three articles presented in this thesis aim to address these gaps by examining the experiences of adolescents as they navigate the primary-secondary school transition. Specifically, this thesis focuses on how students' experiences with the transition to high school differ by gender, and whether participation in the metro Vancouver YWCA Youth Education Program (YEP; an afterschool group mentoring program that focuses on youth's transition to high school) facilitates students' transition from primary to secondary school. In Study 1, using a mixed-methods approach, students' concerns about high school are examined before and after their transition to secondary school. Study 2 quantitatively examines youths' perceptions of friend support across the primary-secondary school transition. This study also examines if the YEP has a positive impact on students' perceptions of friend support. Last, Study 3 focuses on adolescent delinquency throughout the transition to high school. This study also assesses the impact of the YEP on youths' attitudes toward delinquency and their association with delinquent peers. Overall, several broad conclusions can be drawn from this thesis regarding youths' experiences with the transition to high school, gender differences in this experience, and the effectiveness of afterschool group mentoring programs, like the YWCA YEP, on youth outcomes. Implications for policy and practice are discussed, and directions for future research are provided.
184 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Wong, Jennifer
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