Social-Belonging

The Social-Belonging Intervention aims to help all students view challenges in the transition to college as normal and improvable so they are more able to remain socially and academically engaged during periods of difficulty. In previous studies, the intervention has been effective in improving social and academic engagement as well as achievement and completion for students from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds.

Impact to Date

+13
percentage point increase in first-year, full-time enrollment among college-admitted high school seniors at an urban charter school
+4
percentage point increase in first-year, full-time enrollment among minority and first-generation students at a large, public four-year university
.09
increase in cumulative first-year GPA among minority and first-generation students at a selective, private four-year university
31-40%
decrease in achievement gap between students from disadvantaged and advantaged backgrounds across participating schools

Background & Theory

The Challenge

Almost all students experience challenges in the transition to college, such as failing a test or feeling like they aren’t making friends. For students from backgrounds that are traditionally disadvantaged in higher education--including students of color, low income students, and first-generation college students--persistent negative stereotypes and under-representation can lead them to wonder if they belong in college, especially when faced with challenges and setbacks. This concern can lead to social and academic withdrawal which, in turn, leads to lower academic achievement and persistence.

The Opportunity

The Social-Belonging intervention aims to help all students view challenges encountered in the transition to college as normal and improvable. To share this message, the Social-Belonging Program uses carefully written stories from diverse older students to convey that worries about belonging in a new school--such as interacting with peers, joining study groups, and talking with professors--are common at first but dissipate with time as students reach out to others and come to feel at home. By viewing belonging as a process that develops over time over which they have some control, students are more likely to remain socially and academically engaged in the face of challenges (e.g., attending office hours, joining student groups) and ultimately demonstrate greater academic persistence and achievement.

I'll feel a little out of my depth at first, but so does every other person there. That's why my college has resources to help ease the transition, like advisors. I'm nervous about getting through to the security, but I know that's coming, so everything WILL be okay!

- Essay from Participating Student

Social-Belonging: Now Available Through PERTS!

The Social-Belonging Intervention is available to four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. through our partnership with the Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS). This online program allows schools to easily deliver a standard version of the Social-Belonging Intervention to incoming first-year students, helping buffer against threats to their sense of belonging in the transition to college. Participating schools receive a summary report in the Fall sharing key insights from student responses.

Learn More

Current Research

CTC has partnered with 23 colleges and universities around the U.S. to better understand the impact of customization and heterogeneity on the Social-Belonging Program’s efficacy.

Get Involved

Implementing At Your School

The Social-Belonging Intervention is available to four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. through our partnership with the Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS). To receive updates on future practitioner resources around Social-Belonging, please fill out our interest form to receive updates on upcoming opportunities, or send us an email.

Partnership Opportunities

If you are interested in working with the CTC on a future project related to social-belonging, we encourage you to fill out our interest form to receive updates on upcoming opportunities, or send us an email.

Read More: Published Papers

Researchers

Principal Investigators
Greg Walton, Associate Professor, Stanford University
Mary Murphy, Associate Professor, Indiana University
David Yeager, Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
Christine Logel, Associate Professor, Renison University College, affil. University of Waterloo

Project Researchers
Chris Hulleman, Associate Professor, University of Virginia
Christopher Lok, Graduate Student, University of Waterloo
Dustin Thoman, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University
Elise Agbadu, Graduate Student, Indiana University
Eric Smith, Graduate Student, Stanford University
Evelyn Carter, Senior Consultant, Paradigm Strategy, Inc.
Gregg Muragishi, Graduate Student, Stanford University
Heidi Williams, Graduate Student, Indiana University
Joel Le Forestier, Graduate Student, University of Toronto
Katie Boucher, Assistant Professor, University of Indianapolis
Katie Kroeper, Graduate Student, Indiana University
Lisel Murdock-Perriera, Graduate Student, Stanford University
Madison Gilbertson, Graduate Student, Fuller Theological Seminary
Maithreyi Gopalan, Assistant Professor, The Pennsylvania State University
Melanie Gonzalez, Graduate Student, The University of Texas at Austin
Nick Bowman, Professor, The University of Iowa
Omid Fotuhi, Research Associate, University of Pittsburgh
Pete Fisher, Graduate Student, University of California, Los Angeles
Shahana Ansari, Graduate Student, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Shannon Brady, Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University
Stephanie Reeves, Postdoctoral Student, Indiana University
Susie Chen, Graduate Student, University of Pittsburgh
Tsotso Ablorh
, Graduate Student, University of Massachussetts - Boston