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University Belonging

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by Zachary Elison on 11 December 2014

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Transcript of University Belonging

Understanding Belonging in Educational Contexts
What is Belonging?
Fundamental need to belong (Maslow, 1970)
Consistent interaction with persistent caring (Baumeister & Leary, 1995)
In the university environment, it goes beyond individual relationships and also includes feeling connected to institutional community (Pittman & Richmond, 2008)

Why should we care about belonging?
Students who feel a strong sense of belonging are better able to:
Adjust to academic life
Experience lower levels of depressive symptoms
Lower attrition rates
Better social adjustment
Increased academic motivation

(Goodenow, 1993; Tao et. al., 2000)

Dr. Christopher Slaten
Dept. of Educational Studies
Purdue University

Stratified Sample of Purdue Students
Prelimary Results for International Student Belonging

Summary of Domains and Categories (N=10)


Connection with others
Valued group involvement
Meaningful personal relationships
Opportunities to contribute to community 
Religious affiliation

Challenges (e.g., language, weather, food)
Perceived cultural differences/culture shock
Concerns impacting academic achievement
Impact on connecting with native peers

Devotion to academic achievement
Contributing contextual factors
Impact on academic performance
Impact on peer relationships, work/life balance

Intrapersonal factors
Tendency towards introspection
Desire for personal growth
Interpersonal & academic initiative
Belonging & Youth Academic Self-Efficacy
Ages 8-12
N= 329
University Belonging Scale
Stratified sample of Purdue students
International Asian student belonging
Transfer student belonging
Division I athlete belonging

Summary of Domains, Categories, and Frequencies

Domain/Category Frequency

Valued Group Involvement General (11)
Being affiliated /member of an organization(s) on campus General (11)
Group work that was identified as having meaning Typical (8)
Feeling valued within one’s major Typical (5)

Meaningful Personal Relationships General (11)
Having similar experiences as others General (11)
Having healthy relationships with faculty/staff Typical (9)
Building strong friendships with peers Typical (8)
Having family members that are alumni Typical (6)

Environmental Factors General (11)
Global sense of university culture and/or pride General (11)
Influence of living community (i.e., dorms, apartment) General (10)
Classroom environment Typical (9)
The importance of diversity and inclusivity Typical (7)

Intrapersonal Factors General (11)
Intrinsic motivation to seek out relationships with others General (10)
Opportunities for self-awareness and growth General (10)
Balancing Social and Academic Lives Typical (6)

Note: General = applicable to all the cases or all but one; Typical = applicable to at least half of the cases

Preliminary Results
65% of the variance of academic self-efficacy can be explained by
Youth mental health
Hope for the future

Even after accounting for the above variables, perceived belonging contributed significantly to the prediction model
Stratified Sample of Purdue Students
Qualitative Study
Research Question: What does it mean to belong to a university?
Research Question: Does belonging help explain academic self-efficacy in youth?
Intrinsic resiliency
N =458
Practical Implications

Emphasize acculturation and not assimilation
University-wide recognition of individual students
Identification of students who are at-risk for feeling isolated, marginalized, or outcast
Individualized plan with student on how to help them connect on campus better
Hospitality training for faculty/staff
Social Self-Efficacy workshop for students
Example Items
I am proud to be a student at my university
I tend to associate myself with my school
I believe that a faculty/staff member at my university cares about me
I have a close personal relationship with at least one person on campus
My involvement with a group on campus connects me to my university
Preliminary Results
98 original items, reduced to 25 items
Preliminary analysis suggests a 2 factor solution
- Macro-level belonging (University-wide)
- Micro-level belonging (Individual and Group)

(Cronbach's Alpha for full scale = .93)
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