Student belongingness in higher education: lessons for professors from the COVID-19 pandemic

Dianne Tice, Roy Baumeister, Joseph Crawford, Kelly Allen, Alisa Percy

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    57 Citations (Scopus)


    ‘To learn about X, observe what happens to the system when X is removed.’ What happens to the higher education student experience when, during a pandemic, so many of the avenues for building a sense of belonging are radically and fundamentally disrupted? How should we respond as individuals, a collective and a sector, to redress this? The national student survey data in Australia has highlighted a significant drop in learner engagement and their sense of belonging as a result of the pandemic. Indeed, the pandemic has been a significant point of anxiety for students, educators, and universities globally. We see the pandemic as a unique opportunity to critically examine belongingness among university students in a climate where their normal avenues to feel they belong need to establish a new kind of normal. In this article, we seek to articulate what can be learned from the pandemic experience about student belongingness and what instructors can do to improve it, even under difficult circumstances. We found opportunities to strengthen a students’ sense of belonging in online environments, when necessary, and how responses within the constraints of lockdown and emergency remote teaching can still support student success.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of University Teaching and Learning Practice
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • sense of belonging
    • emergency remote teaching
    • Zoom
    • impaired belongingness
    • online instruction
    • discussion groups

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