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Sense of Belonging is Key to Student Success

Belonging is tied to identity and student success

Most seniors agree they experience belonging at ISU:

  • 75% of students feel valued
  • 75% of students feel like they are part of the ISU community
  • 90% of students feel like they can be themselves

Belonging numbers can mask differences by group identity. Belonging is tied to identity. Strategies to foster belonging should focus on systems and environments that foster sense of belonging by identity and build off students’ assets.

Students included in this Power BI dashboard self-identified on the NSSE instrument and are discussed in the book, The Impact of a Sense of Belonging in College. They include students who are commuters, culturally dynamic, first-generation, queer, trans-spectrum, online, transfer or working students.

The Power BI visualization for this topic is part of a suite of NSSE stories that UAS will be releasing throughout the year. Access is available to ISU staff only. View a PDF of the visualization here.

What did we find?

  • Belonging is tied to student success. 78% of first-year students who feel they are part of the ISU community plan on returning for their 2nd year. 36% of students who do not feel like they are part of the ISU community plan on returning.
  • For many groups, feeling valued and feeling like they are a part of the ISU community is lower for seniors. This suggests students are finding affirming spaces over time. It also suggests ISU needs to intentional about communicating to students they are a valued part of the ISU community.
  • Interactions with ISU faculty and staff through courses, spaces or on-campus jobs have a significant impact on belonging.
  • Physical spaces and wayfinding play a significant role in belonging.
  • Many students who expressed concerns about belonging and diversity also expressed appreciation for ISU. This suggests that initiatives to foster belonging among students – and especially students from specific identity groups – have a positive impact.

To improve student success, focus on belonging

  • Encourage a growth mindset in classes and programs.
  • Guide students to events and folks where they can experience belonging.
  • Intentionally create physical spaces for belonging.
  • Promote representation among faculty and staff.
  • Respect student strong ties to culture, family, religion and other communities.
  • Appreciate that belonging is dynamic and can depend on the situation or context.
  • Create experiences that validate students’ multiple identities.
  • Communicate high academic standards and confidence in students’ ability to meet them.

Some strategies adapted from: The Impact of Sense of Belonging in College: Implications for Student Persistence, Retention and Success, 2022.

Visualization Principles

The sense of belonging report is a hybrid explanatory/exploratory visualization , using a combination of text and graphics. More information about this type of visualization is in my post, Using Mad Magazine and the Encyclopedia Principles in Designing Visualizations.

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Published in Belonging Data Visualization Learning Outcomes NSSE Surveys

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