Helping Students Belong

If you attended Faculty Development Day recently, hopefully you listened to an insightful presentation by our guest Keynote Speaker, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, from Ohio State University. The focus of Dr. Strayhorn’s talk was on the topic of strategies that will help students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom.

When a student first enters your class, they are not only there to receive an education but they want to feel like they belong there by both their peers and their professors. If a student feels alienated, either by a language barrier, economic factors, ethnicity or some other situation, the chances for a given student’s success are diminished.

After hearing Dr. Strayhorn’s talk, we thought it would be helpful to expand a little bit on his concepts or thoughts and provide a few ideas to help your students feel like they belong.

Belonging is a basic human need. When many students don’t know the culture and vocabulary of higher education, how do we help them establish a sense of belonging? Here are a couple resources you may find useful.

“Being there” for your students is as integral to their success as it is to provide challenging and engaging courses. Sometimes it may not be possible to be present after class as much as you would like, or there may be a language barrier to overcome. It’s important for your students to feel valuable to their classroom community.

This document might be helpful to your students in getting the help they need outside of your office hours:

Helping students navigate higher education – .pdf document

This document shares a number of practices, which specifically apply to the success of black male college students:

Convey high expectations, teach academic success skills, and nurture confidence – .pdf document

If you didn’t have the opportunity to see Dr. Strayhorn in person at FDD, check out this TED talk where he further discusses the concept of belonging.

Inalienable Rights: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Belonging: Terrell Strayhorn at TEDx Columbus   – YouTube Video

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