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  • Mirka Nenonen

“If they had asked earlier why I have absences”

A phenomenological study on pupils’ experiences of the role of school-related factors in school attendance problems

Objectives. The purpose of this thesis was to study the experiences of former lower secondary school pupils related to their school attendance problems (SAPs). The research seeks to provide information related to the phenomenon and the role of school-related factors in the Finnish context. Previous research has shown that teachers and other school personnel highlight the role of individual and family factors when explaining the reasons for school attendance problems and the pupils emphasize the importance of school-related factors. As such, the research questions are 1. How did school-related factors influence the pupils’ SAPs? 2. What kind of support was offered to the pupils when they were having SAPs? 3. What kind of support the pupils would have wished to get from the school personnel when having SAPs? Methods. Five former lower-secondary school pupils were interviewed during October and November 2021. The youth were 15-17 years old and had completed their basic education in a middle-sized southern city in Finland in 2020 or 2021. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using the phenomenological interview method and analyzed by interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results and conclusions. All the pupils had lower academic achievement because of being absent from school. The participants considered their pupil-teacher relationships important. They highlighted the importance of being supported and seen as an individual. Some thought that their teachers did not believe them and their explanations for SAPs. Peer relationships were important for all the youth but there was also bullying and discrimination from peers. Some pupils were absent together with their peers, while for some the support gotten from the peers was important. The pupils would have wanted


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