Student perceptions of belonging at university: a qualitative perspective.

Alison Faith Kelly, Hilda Mary Mulrooney


Belonging is multidimensional, personal and geographical in nature. Establishing a sense of belonging benefits students and institutions. This study sought to explore aspects of belonging from the student perspective. Data were collected using open text boxes within a questionnaire and an optional focus group. A total of 617 students participated of whom 85% completed the questionnaire. One focus group with 3 participants was held. Qualitative data highlighted personal and social aspects of belonging, and the benefits of belonging for successful study. The importance of belonging was not agreed universally but most students identified it as important, and felt that they personally belonged. Understanding what belonging means and what influences it is important to enhance student engagement and retention.


Belonging; Qualitative; Social; Support; Academic staff

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New Directions in the Teaching of Physical Sciences

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