Student belongingness in higher education: Lessons for Professors from the COVID-19 pandemic


  • Dianne Tice Brigham Young University, United States of America
  • Roy Baumeister University of Queensland, Australia
  • Joseph Crawford University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Kelly-Ann Allen Monash University, Australia
  • Alisa Percy University of Technology Sydney, Australia


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


‘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.


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How to Cite

Student belongingness in higher education: Lessons for Professors from the COVID-19 pandemic. (2021). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 18(4).

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