What is belonging?


To learn more about the research on belonging and how it impacts students' experiences in school and their performance, please visit http://mindsetscholarsnetwork.org.

  • Belonging is the feeling that one is respected and valued in a given context. Research shows that students are more likely to be motivated, engaged, resilient, and successful if they feel like they belong in school.
  • When people are uncertain about their belonging, they search for cues to help them determine if they fit in, if they are liked, and if they are valued and respected. This search for cues about belonging and related anxieties can deplete cognitive resources, and make students feel less motivated and engaged.
  • Belonging is especially important in the context of educational equity and achievement gaps. Students who are members of stereotyped groups are especially likely to be anxious that they do not belong.
  • Research also shows that targeted changes to practice can reduce belonging anxiety and mitigate race- and gender-based achievements gaps.
Okonofua, J. A., Paunesku, D. & Walton, G. M. (2016). Brief intervention to encourage empathic discipline cuts suspension rates in half among adolescents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, 5221-5226. Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2007). A question of belonging: race, social fit, and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 82. Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science, 331, 1447-1451. Yeager, D. S. & Walton, G. (2011). Social-psychological interventions in education: They’re not magic. Review of Educational Research, 81, 267-301.
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