Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Jared Schlenker


The purpose of this study was two-fold: first, to understand perceptions of high school students regarding their transition from middle school into high school. Grounded theory research methods were used to construct theory from data obtained from the study. Secondly, the researcher wished to advocate for North Dakota high schools for implementing school-wide transition programs to bridge the transition gap during a period of pivotal importance in the lives of our students. A review of North Dakota Century Code 15.1 revealed no statute has been developed requiring North Dakota schools to implement school-wide programs or activities focusing on students transitioning from middle to high school.The researcher conducted a grounded theory mixed methods study by collecting online survey responses (both quantitative and qualitative) from 513 currently enrolled high school (10th-12th grade) students from three participating high schools within one public school district in North Dakota. Grounded theory is employed to understand a situation (student’s perceptions of transitioning into high school) and to identify the cause of a problem (possible reasons/motivations behind students perceptions of school connectedness). The integration of Schlossberg’s Transition Theory and School Connectedness frameworks were critical in understanding how student participants experienced their transition into high school as well as unearthing aspects of school life that may have contributed to the overall transition itself. Findings of this study suggested that students within the participating school district had a need for connections with others, believed there are multiple benefits of joining extracurriculars, and had a need to learn more about the “unknowns” about high school prior to their arrival. The results of this study included recommendations for educators, state educational departments, students, and for implementation of a school-wide transition program for incoming high school students to bridge the transition gap between middle school and high school