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Supporting Entrepreneurship Students’ Sense of Belonging in Online Virtual Spaces

Brodie, Jacqueline; Osowska, Renata



Universities globally are aspiring to grow through investing in the
delivery of online learning Programmes. However, the attrition rate for online learning is high. Thomas, Herbert and Teras (2014) identified that those students with a sense of belonging to their course experienced increase enjoyment, reduced anxiety and were less likely to withdraw. Yet, too often programme design guidance to support a sense of belonging for student communities focus on localised, full-time and young students unlike the older, global dispersed, time-starved students in our online entrepreneurship programme.
This paper explores how to effectively support a sense of belonging for entrepreneurship students in a virtual learning space throughout their online degree studies. The research presented in this paper adopts an interpretivist perspective - eight students were interviewed who were studying a one year top up degree in a UK HE. Teaching and support staff interviewed were based solely in the UK. The data collected was analysed using thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006). This paper seeks to contribute to the debate of what a sense of belonging means in a virtual space for entrepreneurship students and identify how these students can feel connected and supported to finish their course.


Brodie, J., & Osowska, R. (2021). Supporting Entrepreneurship Students’ Sense of Belonging in Online Virtual Spaces. Industry and Higher Education, 35(4),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 16, 2020
Online Publication Date Mar 10, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Nov 19, 2020
Publicly Available Date Nov 19, 2020
Journal Industry and Higher Education
Print ISSN 0950-4222
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 4
Keywords Belonging, entrepreneurship education, online learning, student retention
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Supporting Entrepreneurship Students’ Sense Of Belonging In Online Virtual Spaces (151 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed.

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