Tag Archives: belonging

STEM students’ sense of belonging and test anxiety in in Bergen (quick summary of work with Emily M. Christiansen, Sehoya Cotner, Robin Costello, Sarah Hammarlund, & Madeline Kate Kiani)

In my series of things-I-want-to-say-in-an-upcoming-workshop-but-suspect-I-might-skip-to-make-time-for-participants’-topics, here is a quick summary of work I did with Emily M. Christiansen, Sehoya Cotner, Robin Costello, Sarah Hammarlund, & Madeline Kate Kiani on STEM students’ sense of belonging in Bergen a while back. The results are very interesting, mostly because they are very similar to what we have read about for years in a US context. However, this is the first time that this type of data has been collected in a Scandinavian context, where the assumption is traditionally that gender equality is so high that there shouldn’t be any differences between male and female students’ sense of belonging (yet we see there is), and where access to education is universal, so that it shouldn’t matter whether your parents have been to university or not (yet we see a correlation with test anxiety). Becoming aware of that is really important, so that we can figure out how to address it and level the playing field (some examples of what we could do are given here).

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Reading about a sense of belonging, and how it is more complicated than we might think

Belonging is a tricky concept and there is no consensus on how to measure it. And belonging can be in the university environment, in a course, in a discipline, with peers… Many scales include an aspect of “fitting in”, which is then sometimes turned around on students as pressure to fit in with their peers, or a deficit if they don’t. And the focus is often on students that are in some way “disadvantaged”, which basically means everyone who is not young, white, middle class and male. But despite “belonging” maybe not being what we should be looking at, or maybe not even exactly what we mean, I read a bit more.

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Currently investigating: “If I don’t trust my teachers, how can I learn then?” (with Peter Persson and Rachel Forsyth)

I am currently doing this super interesting research project on trust with my colleagues Peter Persson and Rachel Forsyth. Rachel and colleagues developed a model for “trust moves” that teachers employ, but are those moves actually effective in building trust? What makes students trust their teachers? That’s what we investigate in a pilot study that we’ll present at LTH’s teaching and learning conference in December. Read more about it below or here.

(Featured image: Me trusting my freediving instructor)

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Currently reading: Relationship-rich education (Felten & Lambert, 2020)

I read the book “Relationship-rich education. How human connections drive success in college” by Felten & Lambert (2020) almost a year ago and found it super inspiring, but also very hard to summarize. You should check it out yourself, of course, but here are my key take-aways.

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Reading Gin et al. (2021) on “how syllabi can serve as communication tools for creating inclusive classrooms”

This is mostly a “note to self”: Found a really interesting article on “how syllabi can serve as communication tools for creating inclusive classrooms” by Gun et al. (2021). A review of 60ish biology syllabi as well as the literature of what should be included, and pointers on which group of students especially benefits from the information and why, as well as examples. This is great to help students build “cultural capital” and level the playing field! And strong motivation to pay more attention to syllabi as actual communication tools and how they — as oftentimes first point of contact between instructor and students — can shape the classroom climate.

They even provide a template syllabus here: https://zenodo.org/record/4317968#.Y8EIaC8w0f8
Highly recommended reading!

Gin, L. E., Scott, R. A., Pfeiffer, L. D., Zheng, Y., Cooper, K. M., & Brownell, S. E. (2021). It’s in the syllabus… or is it? How biology syllabi can serve as communication tools for creating inclusive classrooms at a large-enrollment research institution. Advances in Physiology Education.

Fostering student sense of belonging in a large online class (after Lim, Atif, Farmer; 2022)

When we talk about fostering student sense of belonging, it is easiest to think about in-person interactions. However, a lot of our teaching these days is online, and in high-enrolment courses. What can we do then? Two elements are critical: Teacher presence and interactive course design. Lim, Arif and Farmer (2022) present a case study of a learning analytics feedback intervention that I will summarize below.

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Reading about connections between theory and practice in teaching, metaphors for learning, and academically-supportive friendships

We recently ran a round-table discussion on “How to teach students who are not “mini-me”s (and don’t want to be)” at the Lund University Teaching and Learning conference last year, and now I am trying to write a conference paper on what we discussed there. So naturally, I am starting out by re-reading the literature suggestions we gave, as well as some other interesting articles.

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