Social belonging is when a student feels they are part of the learning community. Having a sense of social belonging is associated with improved student well-being, academic engagement, and performance. Belonging uncertainty (the concern that people have about the extent to which they belong) is negatively associated with achievement, performance, and well-being.
Most students question their social belonging and it's important to help students understand that belonging concerns are normal, part of the college transition, and do not signal a lack of belonging or academic potential. Keep in mind that students from underrepresented groups or who belong to groups that are negatively stereotyped are likely to feel like they do not belong due to their awareness of cultural stimages and stereotypes.
Quick tips on encouraging social belong:
- At the beginning of the term, share a personal or student story about facing and overcoming belonging exepriences. Communicate how it got better over time with building relationships
- Use language to reassure students during important and/or transitional periods during the schoolyear (ex: at the beginning of the term, before midterms, before an exam, etc.)
For more information on social belonging, please watch the video below.