Category Archives: literature

Currently reading Janke et al. (2017) on social identification with academia

After all the thinking about belonging I’ve done recently, I came across the article by Janke et al. (2017) today that measures “social identification with academia” as Venn-diagram with varying degrees of overlap of the circles for “self” and “academics”, which I thought was neat. The reason I found the article was because I was looking for the connection between generation in college and test anxiety, which they investigate. The idea is that for continuing-generation students, i.e. students who have at least one parent who has gone to university, it is much easier to identify with academia and to take failure as something normal that they can overcome, and not as a sign of failure and not belonging. They find that this acts as a buffer for negative experiences, so continuing-generation students can feel more satisfied and less test-anxious in the face of failure (both of which likely makes it easier to succeed again). The academic disadvantage that first-generation students have is therefore not just about not knowing the hidden curriculum and untold rules (as well as typically growing up with less resources (I once read that the number of books in the household a child grows up in is a good predictor for their academic career — how horrible is that?)), but also about their social identity that doesn’t help them feel like belong but that makes belonging depend on how well they do and therefore adds a lot of stress.

I don’t know if there are easy interventions to fix this issue, but it’s at least important to be aware that academic privilege of continuing-generation students is even larger than previously assumed, and to keep this in mind going forward.


Janke S, Rudert SC, Marksteiner T and Dickhäuser O (2017) Knowing One’s Place: Parental Educational Background Influences Social Identification with Academia, Test Anxiety, and Satisfaction with Studying at University. Front. Psychol. 8:1326. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01326

Currently reading Flett et al. (2022) on “anti-mattering”

As we are continuing working on our “sense of belonging” project at UiB (read more about my thoughts on students’ sense of belonging and what we can do about it here; and the general idea behind this project is to first get a baseline of student experiences, and then figure out how to make all students feel welcome and that they are in the right place), I’ve started reading up on “mattering”. Belonging makes the assumption that students want to belong in the first place, and that’s not necessarily the case. Mattering, on the other hand, is only about how students perceive others’ reactions to themselves.

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Currently reading: “Hope dies, action begins?” The role of hope for proactive sustainability engagement among university students. (Vandaele & Stålhammar, 2022)

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked to many people that are in one way or other involved in teaching about sustainability at high school or university level. One thing that has struck me is how many seem to be teaching about sustainability without actually believing that we can and will “fix” the big issues like climate, biodiversity, hunger, wars. And while I don’t have a solution to them either, I found it so disheartening to see all these teachers that talk to so many young people and that seem to have no hope for the future. Surely this cannot be the way to do things. If they don’t see the point of changing things because we are all doomed anyway, how will they support their students to develop skills and strategies to deal with all the big challenges they will be faced with?

This is where the article I’m summing up below comes in:

“Hope dies, action begins?” The role of hope for proactive sustainability engagement among university students. (Vandaele & Stålhammar, 2022)

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Currently reading: Inspiring Action, Efficacy, and Connection: Weaving Sustainability into Environmental Science Curriculum through a Connected Learning Model (Bertossi & Halliwell, 2020)

Yesterday, in our “collegial project course: teaching sustainability”, I showed two models of how one might approach thinking about teaching sustainability, and here is another one that I quite like, from the article

Inspiring Action, Efficacy, and Connection: Weaving Sustainability into Environmental Science Curriculum through a Connected Learning Model (Bertossi & Halliwell, 2020)

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Currently reading: “Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice” (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006)

Somehow a print of the “Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice” (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006) article ended up on my desk. I don’t know who wanted me to read it, but I am glad I did! See my summary below.

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Currently reading: JUTLP special issue on belonging in an anxious world (articles 1-7)

In response to my blog post about belonging, I was made aware of the current issue of the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (JUTLP) on “Pedagogies of belonging in an anxious world“. So now I am determined to actually read that whole issue! My short summaries of the first 7 articles below.

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A red thread in my career: Being intentional about building community

Today is my blog’s 9th Birthday! How incredible is that? I’ve published 1,300 blog posts (this one is, in fact, exactly number 1,300!). Who would have thought that this would come out of me being a bored babysitter because A&I(happy anniversary, btw!)’s kids are always just too well-behaved and were sleeping, and I was on the couch procrastinating on doing some other stuff, and so I started a blog about floating and sinking soda cans and other #KitchenOceanography fun. And how cool that the topic and title I picked back then transitioned so well with every move my career would take! It seems incredible how much I’ve written over the years and how much time I must have spent on this blog in total. But it has been so rewarding, and so much fun! And it has also become a really interesting record of my professional development.

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Students’ sense of belonging, and what we can do about it

Last week, Sarah Hammarlund (of “Context Matters: How an Ecological-Belonging Intervention Can Reduce Inequities in STEM” by Hammarlund et al., 2022) gave a presentation here at LTH as part of a visit funded by iEarth* that led to a lot of good discussions amongst our colleagues about what we can do to increase students’ sense of belonging, and to the question “what can we, as teachers, do, to help students feel that they belong?”.

Below, I’m throwing together some ideas on the matter, from all kinds of different sources.

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Creating a “time for telling” (Schwartz & Bransford, 1998)

As we are talking more and more about co-creation and all these cool things, I find it important to remember that sometimes, giving a lecture is still a really good choice. Especially when it happens at the right time, when we have created conditions for students to actually want to be told about stuff.

One way to create “a time for telling” for students with very little prior knowledge is described in Schwartz & Bransford (1998), where students work with contrasting cases to the point that they are really curious about why the cases are different (one example I have heard mentioned in this context is the coke-and-mentos experiment, that only leads to this cool fountain when you use diet coke, not any other type of coke. But why???), and are prepared to listen to someone giving them an explanation. In this case, listening to a lecture is perceived as the fastest way to learn the information that is relevant and interesting in this moment, rather than, in many other cases, listening to a boring monologue that needs to be memorised because someone thinks that it should be.

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