Published: January 11, 2021

Luengen, K., Mazerolle, L., & Antrobus, E. (2021). Fostering intentions to attend school: Applying the theory of planned behaviour to shape positive behavioural intentions in a cohort of truanting youths. Current Psychology. DOI: 10.1007/s12144-020-01309-8


Kelsy Luengen, Lorraine Mazerolle and Emma Antrobus.


The act of truancy is linked to numerous negative lifelong social and economic harms. Fostering positive intentions towards school and school attendance may mitigate these harms. This paper applies the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) to evaluate the effects the Ability School Engagement Program (ASEP) trial had on the behavioural intentions of truanting youths. The trial was evaluated under randomised control conditions. The ASEP intervention used Family Group Conferences including the presence of a police officer, teacher, the student and their guardian(s) and a trained facilitator to communicate and gain willing compliance from the student with truancy laws. Quantitative analyses of self-report survey data, collected from 102 students 12-weeks after random allocation to either participate in the conference or not, investigates the applicability of the TPB in this context. Results indicate that behavioural intentions to attend school were positively influenced by the ASEP condition. Students’ behavioural intentions were predominantly influenced by their attitudes and secondarily by their subjective norms. Split sample regressions indicated the TPB model had less predictive ability in determining behavioural intentions in the experimental group than in the control group. The implications of this are discussed. The results of this paper provide a basis on which more research into understanding which ASEP mechanisms influenced the students’ behavioural intentions can be conducted.