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Enhancing Belonging At University: Exploring Authentic Community Building

Haddow, Christine; Brodie, Jackie



Despite a link between retention and a sense of belonging being identified in salient literature (Pedler et al., 2021), results from the UK’s National Student Survey still indicate a consistently low positive response rate to question 21 ‘I feel part of a community of staff and students’ when compared to other aspects of the learning and teaching experience. It follows that enhancing belonging and communities at university has emerged as an area of thematic priority at institutional level, in academic research and for quality enhancement organisations such as Advance HE and QAA Scotland (Campbell, 2019; O’Mahony et al., 2013; Robertson et al., 2019). As we emerge from an unplanned period of online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering relationships and a sense of connectedness among students has gained further importance. This presentation will begin by briefly sharing learning from the evaluation of a suite of belonging focused mini-projects implemented at a modern Scottish University over a 3 year period, in the context of the QAA Enhancement Themes. These small-scale projects evidence the utility of a ‘bottom up’ approach to community building, positioning students as active facilitators of their own sense of belonging. The session will provide insights into ‘what works’ in enhancing belonging at university and will conclude with an interactive consideration of ‘authentic communities’, inviting the audience to reflect on how these emerge in their own disciplines and institutions.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 5th International Active Learning Conference
Start Date Jul 20, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2022
Keywords Belonging, community
Public URL