This summer, the CETL will be presenting one tip per week, to provide a more in-depth discussion of evidence-based teaching practices. If there are specific topics you would like to see CETL explore, please let us know! We also welcome guest posts from faculty who have a teaching tip they would like to share with their colleagues. 

Students’ Sense of Belonging is Essential to Their Success 

We all share the human need to belong, but research suggests that students’ sense of belonging is critical to their persistence and success in college (NSSE, 2022). Sense of belonging refers to a feeling of connectedness, being cared about, accepted, respected, valued, and important to the campus community – and according to (Strayhorn, 2019), “it can affect a student’s degree of academic adjustment, achievement, aspirations, or even whether a student stays in school.” Students who feel like they belong are more likely to be engaged in class and perform well. On the other hand, feelings of isolation or “belonging uncertainty” are “negatively associated with achievement, performance, and well-being” (Ryan et al., 2022).  

To build community and students’ sense of belonging, those within the campus community can:  

  • Make sure students’ basic needs are met (e.g., connect students to campus resources)  
  • Give students many opportunities to share their experiences, and demonstrate they are heard by following through with appropriate support.  
  • Increase collaboration to ensure that students are at the center of decision-making.  

One way to support students’ sense of belonging is through “social belonging messages”, which can be used in course syllabi and direct communications with students. Two key components to effective belonging messages include:  

  1. Acknowledgment that students’ concerns about belonging are perfectly normal; and  
  1. Reassurance that belonging gets better over time, as they continue to develop relationships with the campus community (Ryan et al., 2022).  

To learn more about building a sense of belonging in your classroom and the wider campus community, see Seven Practices for Building Student Belonging 


Join us for our upcoming Conference on Innovative Teaching and Student Success to learn more about fostering inclusion and belonging in the classroom and other strategies for supporting student learning and success.  


Interested in exploring any of these ideas further or discussing how you might implement them in your own teaching practices? Is there a tip you’ve tried that you would like to share with colleagues? Contact CETL or schedule a consultation to continue the conversation.