This page focuses on building relatedness and belonging in the classroom (online or face-to-face). The pandemic has highlighted the importance, for all of us, of feeling a sense of relatedness (being connected to and cared for by others). Relatedness is one of the 3 basic psychological needs that were discussed in the first video on the Course Convenors’ Practical Examples page (see also Lizzio, 2017). The current page is the result of a collaboration amongst SEA-HUI Fellows/Colleagues, the Student Wellbeing Community of Practice, and Arc because we all recognize that the development of a sense of relatedness and belonging is strongly tied to positive course/program experiences.
In particular, we think of relatedness in the university context as consisting of three overlapping major categories:
- Peer (i.e. student-to-student)
- Student-to-instructor/tutor/lecturer/course convenor
Although the concept of belonging is usually most strongly tied to the latter category, all three categories of relatedness contribute to students’ sense of belonging to the university community, and to their identity as a successful student and a developing professional. A complementary theoretical framework emphasizing engagement has been proffered by Redman (et al. 2018), and this, along with work on identity formation (Reid et al., 2019; Sheldon & Houser-Marko, 2001) and on increasing both educator and student awareness of the university-wide graduate capabilities such as professionalism and global citizenship is emphasized throughout. More recent concepts of belonging emphasise a sense of ‘mattering’ and student-staff partnerships (Felten, 2022), which tap into all 3 psychological needs.
The resources on this page are primarily videos of practical examples of how course and program leaders have sought to build a sense of relatedness and belonging. Some of these resources are from the HUI Course and Program Convenors Practical Examples, whereby we introduce Self-determination Theory* and its sub-theory about the three psychological needs, relatedness, autonomy, and belonging. Of course, building students’ sense of competence and autonomy also contributes to a sense of belonging to the university community. Other resources were sourced from the Scientia Education Academy Teaching News You Can Use, and at both these sites mentioned, there are many valuable resources, some not included here.
The resources here are divided into categories, starting with Great Start: Relatedness/Belonging in the First Weeks of Uni, which most agree is critical to student success. The second category is self-explanatory, whereas the third category recognizes the role of curriculum-based assessable team-work in building a sense of relatedness and belonging. Note that there is considerable overlap amongst these categories; for example, the team-work resources are highly relevant to making a great start.