A longitudinal study of the influence of depression and school experience on dropping out of secondary school



This thesis addresses the issue of the link between depression and dropping out of school among adolescents.

The first paper examines students at risk of dropping out at the start of secondary school. It seeks to study the relationship between depression in Grade 6 and the risk of dropping out in Secondary 1, and the school-related mediating factors of this relationship, during the transition from primary to secondary school.

Depressed students form a subgroup at risk of dropping out.

The findings indicate that students who experience strong symptoms of depression in Grade 6 are more likely to be at risk of dropping out in Secondary 1. Furthermore, the findings suggest a correlation between negative attitudes towards school and depression in boys.

At the same time, the findings show that school-related variables mediate the relationship between depression in Grade 6 and the risk of dropping out in Secondary 1. Among students who experience strong symptoms of depression in Grade 6, negative attitudes towards the school and their teacher and school performance influence their risk of dropping out in Secondary 1.

The second paper examines the evolution of symptoms of depression among dropouts and persevering secondary school students, in addition to the variables that distinguish the academic progress of depressed students who drop out of school and those who persevere. While we observe decreased academic performance over time among all depressed students, those who drop out have lower average marks throughout secondary school than those who persevere.

Our findings support the existence of a relationship between depression and the risk of dropping out of school. They indicate that depressed students form a subgroup at risk of dropping out, for whom dropout prevention programs would be of great benefit.

Furthermore, these findings support the idea that dropping out of school is a process that begins early in a student's school career and that intervention is necessary from the start of secondary school.

Main researcher

Marie-Ève Gagné. Université du Québec à Montréal

Thesis

Call for proposals

Deposit of the thesis: June 2012