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Developing a ‘Sense of Belonging’

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1 Developing a ‘Sense of Belonging’
DEE Conference, Cardiff 9-10 September 2009 Developing a ‘Sense of Belonging’ Guglielmo Volpe Economics Department Queen Mary, University of London Warning! There is no economics in this talk! Feel free to leave the room and take a break if you wish!

2 Why? My new department ‘Confrontational’ relationship with students
Poor NSS results No engagement with students Research focus and little attention to T&L Lack of collegial engagement within the Department

3 School success and failure
Classroom engagement Academic effort School success and failure Situational and contextual factors Quality of school social relationship Sense of belonging or psychological membership in the school or classroom

4 Sense of belonging or psychological membership in the school or classroom
Extent to which students feel personally accepted, respected, included and supported by others in the school social environment (Goodenow, 1993) Experience of personal involvement in a system or environment so that persons feel themselves to be an integral part of that system or environment (Hagerty and Patusky, 1995) “need to belong is a fundamental human motivation and can be defined as a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of lasting, positive and significant interpersonal relationship” (Osterman, 2000)

5 Sense of belonging or psychological membership in the school or classroom
In school Importance in life absence leads to lowered interest and engagement in ordinary life (Weiss, 1973) Difficulty in sustaining academic engagement and commitment in environments where students do not feel valued and welcome (Batcher, 1981, Zeichner, 1980, Tinto, 1987) Belonging is a critical factor in school retention and dropout of at risk students (Finn, 1989, Wehlage, 1989)

6 Research shows that among middle and high school students, sense of belonging leads to
Better academic motivation Lower rates of school drop-out Higher grade point average Better socio-emotional functioning (Anderman and Anderman 1999, Goodenow 1993, Anderman 2002, Wehlag et al. 1989, Shochet et al., 2006)

7 (Anderman and Freeman 2004,Hurtado & Carter 1997, Mounts 2004)
Research shows that among undergraduate students, sense of belonging leads to Linked to lecturers caring Greater involvement in campus organisation Lower level of depression/loneliness among African American and Caucasian students Less racial climate among Latino students Students at a disadvantage may benefit more from a sense of belonging than other groups (Anderman and Freeman 2004,Hurtado & Carter 1997, Mounts 2004)

8 Measure of sense of belonging
Two defining attributes Fit Perception that the individual’s characteristics articulate with the system or environment Valued Involvement The experience of feeling valued, needed and accepted Antecedents or precursors to sense of belonging Energy for involvement, potential and desire for meaningful involvement and potential for shared or complementary characteristics

9 Sense of belonging instrument (Hagerty and Potusky, 1995)
27 items questionnaire covering issues of fit, value and antecedents 4 points likert scale Psychological Sense of School Membership (Goodenow, 1993) 18 items questionnaire 5 points likert scale Sense of belonging instrument (Hofman et al., 2007) 26 items questionnaire distributed over five factors Perceived peer support Perceived staff support/comfort Perceived classroom support Perceived isolation Empathetic faculty understanding

10 Pilot project: Sense of belonging of economics students at Queen Mary
Small scale summer project with aim to scale up project in coming academic year Call for participants and eventually 7 students agreed to be involved (one third year student, three second year and three first year students) PSSM questionnaire Semi-structured interviews Aims: Measure sense of belonging Explore factors affecting sense of belonging for students

11 Some preliminary results on ‘Sense of Belonging’ scores
Year 1 students’ average score Student 1 3.72 Student 2 3.56 Student 3 3.78 3.69 Year 2 and 3 students’ average scores Avg. Score 2007/8 Avg. Score 2008/9 Student 1 3.39 3.06 Student 2 3.17 4.5 Student 3 2.33 2.17 Student 4 3.61 4.61 3.13 3.59

12 From interviews Students-staff relationship
Reduce ‘distance’ between staff and students Students-peer relationship Importance of induction Groups of friends – difficulty to engage with other groups International students – ethnic minorities Extra-curricular activities

13 Developing a sense of belonging: what are we doing?
Many things…. look at students and staff relationship Support students engagement with their peers

14 look at students and staff relationship
Strengthen advising/support systems Appoint senior tutor Appoint students support manager Introduce standard of service framework Define timeline for feedback and enhance awareness about feedback practices

15 look at students and staff relationship
Research assistant scheme Financial help for attendance to summer courses Guest speaker lecture (this year: Robert Peston) Induction has been strengthened for all students (year 1, 2 and 3)

16 Students engagement with their peers
Engage with and support Economics Society Debate teams Imagery competition Peer support scheme Student helpers Student ambassadors Careers and employability workshops

17 The staff vs students football competition!!!
But, the most important new initiative….. The staff vs students football competition!!!

18 References Anderman, L.H., Anderman, E.M. (1999). Social predictors of changes in students’ achievement goal orientations. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 24, 21-37 Anderman, L.H., Freeman, T.M. (2004). Students’ sense of belonging in school. In P.R. Pintrich and M.I. Maehr (Eds.), Motivating students, improving schools: Advances in motivation and achievement, Vol. 13, p.27-63, Amsterdam: Elsvier Goodenow, C. (1993). The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30, 79-90 Hagborg. W.J. (1994). An exploration of school membership among middle- and high-school students. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 12, Hoffman, M., Richmond, J., Morrow, J., Salomone, K. (2003). Investigating “Sense of Belonging” in first-year college students. Journal of College Student Retention, 4, Hurtado, S., Carter., D.F. (1997). Effects of college transition and perceptions of the campus racial cliamte on Latino college students’ sense of belonging. Sociology of Education, 70, Osterman, K.F. (2000). Students’ need for belonging in the school community. Review of Educational Research, 70, Pittman, L.D., Richmond, A. (2007). Academic and Psychological Functioning in Late Adolescence: The importance of school belonging. The Journal of Experimental Education, 75,

19 Psychological Sense of School Membership (Goodenow, 1993)
I feel like a real part of the Economics Department People here notice when I am good at something It is hard for people like me to be accepted here Other students in the Department take my opinions seriously Most lecturers within the Department are interested in me Sometimes I feel as if I do not belong here There is at least one lecturer (or other person) in the Department I can talk to if I have a problem People in the Department are friendly to me Lecturers here are not interested in people like me I am included in/participate to lots of activities in the Department I am treated with as much respect as other students I feel very different from most other students here I can really be myself in this Department The lecturers here respect me People here know I can do good work I wish I were in a different Department/University I feel proud of belonging to the Economics Department Other students here like me the way I am

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