Exploring how a ‘Sense of Belonging’ is facilitated at different stages of the student journey in Higher Education.
This paper gives an overview of a study conducted at the University of Winchester to explore students’ ‘sense of belonging’ at one particular UK institution. The project was completed in two phases: first, an investigation via a ‘Feedback Forum’ of the different stages and factors contributing to a ‘sense of belonging’ and the points in time during the student journey where this was achieved. Second, this initial data was coded to provide a series of categories which informed the creation of an institution-wide survey to investigate further which types of engagement led to a ’sense of belonging’, and to what extent, for each category identified. This research was influenced by the national policy and market economy within current UK Higher Education (HE), with a focus on retention and student satisfaction, which has, in turn, been linked to belonging (Thomas, 2012; Morgan, 2003). The study was undertaken, and the paper authored, through a student-staff partnership within the Winchester Student Fellows Scheme (described by Sims et al, 2014).
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