Practices to Promote Social Belonging

Interpersonal and situational cues signal to students whether they belong (or not) in a particular context. These cues differ for students, depending on their group membership (e.g., gender, race, first-generation, low-income). While most students experience some form of belonging uncertainty in college, students from groups that are underrepresented in higher education or negatively stereotyped tend to experience higher rates of belonging uncertainty than others.

The SEP Practices Library contains practice recommendations that instructors can use in their courses to bolster student engagement and increase equity in academic outcomes. The following practice recommendations promote a sense of social belonging. To view the practices library organized by other social-psychological constructs, click here.

Overview: Effective Social Belonging Messages: A foundational overview on how to craft messages that promote social belonging, why they work, and how to use them

Policy Review: Student-Centered Course Policies: A step-by-step guide for crafting course policies that promote equity and acknowledge and accommodate the lived experiences of diverse student populations

Creating a Belonging Story: Guidance on developing and adapting a brief exercise to help students understand that belonging concerns in college are normal, and not a signal that they do not belong or cannot succeed

Encouraging Connections in the Classroom: Approaches for encouraging connections between students and the instructional team, and among students

Ensuring Classroom Identity Safety: Approaches for creating classroom learning environments where students from diverse identities feel welcome, valued, respected, and as though they are recognized as having the potential to succeed

Addressing an Identity Threatening Incident: Guidance on a straightforward and practical approach for addressing identity-threatening incidents in a way that promotes students’ identity safety and social belonging, and builds connection and trust 

Supporting Self-Efficacy by Integrating Self-Relevance and a Sense of Purpose into Your Course: Approaches to help students see their coursework as relevant to their own experiences and their future goals

Supporting Financially Stressed Students: Recommendations for practices that can help support financially stressed students' learning, sense that they belong in college, and belief in their ability to succeed


The SEP Practices Library was developed by CTC, with feedback and collaboration from university partners, for the Student Experience Project.
(© 2022) Copying, reproducing, or monetizing this resource without express permission from the College Transition Collaborative is prohibited.

Email contact@ctcteam.org with any questions.