We Belong: differential sense of belonging and its meaning for different ethnicity groups in higher education

Debra Cureton, Phil Gravestock

Abstract


This paper covers two studies that explore student belonging in higher education and how a sense of belonging differs between ethnicity groups. The research took a mixed methodology approach, collecting both quantitative data via a survey and qualitative data via focus groups. Study One explored the differential experiences of belonging via the Belongingness Survey (Yorke, 2016), with a group of 941 students. This was followed by Study Two, which used focus groups to generate a greater understanding of what belonging meant to the students, how belonging developed and to identify barriers to developing a sense of belonging.

This work concluded that ethnicity-based differences in students sense of belonging are apparent, which mirror the differences that are witnessed at a sector level in degree outcomes. Additionally, belongingness is found to have an unstable nature in that it waxes and wanes, and can be lost or developed at any part of the student lifecycle. Some student-identified initiatives to support the development of belonging are presented. The findings are discussed in the light of the current literature on differential outcomes.


Keywords


Belonging; Belongingness; BAME; differential outcomes

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v12i1.942

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