Examples In Practice
Creating a strong sense of belonging from the outset is critical to sustaining a nourishing learning environment. As synthesized by Addy et al. (2021), in the literature, belonging has been associated with higher academic achievement, particularly from students from marginalized groups (Good et al., 2012; Walton et al. 2015; Walton & Cohen, 2011; Walton & Cohen, 2007); it can act as a psychological lever for student achievement and health (Walton & Cohen, 2011) and increase peer-level social capital, linked to satisfaction with university life (Bye et al., 2019).
This “About Me. . . ” questionnaire is one way you can foster a sense of belonging from day one, inviting students to share (to their own level of comfort and vulnerability) pieces of their own stories and social identities that you can affirm and respond to in your course.
MUS 239 UNGRADED ACTIVITY – DAY 1: ABOUT ME AND ABOUT YOU
Again, welcome to MUS239! I’m delighted you are here and I look forward to learning together this semester.
Before we dive into content, it’s important for me to get to know you as a human – as much as possible and to the extent you want me to – so this set of questions is simply an invitation for you to share what you would like me to know about you and your story.
I’ll start by sharing a little bit about myself and then I’ll ask you a few questions. Only answer the questions you feel comfortable answering. Give as little or as much information as you would like. Most importantly, this is entirely between you and me. Nobody else will read the information you provide. And remember: whatever information you provide will not have an impact on your grade whatsoever. This is just to get to know each other a bit more today.
You can call me Chris. My pronouns are he/him/his.
What name/nickname do you want me and your peers in this class to call you by?
What pronouns do you want me and your peers in this class to use for you? (If you’d prefer, I can use your first name in situations where I might otherwise use pronouns: “As Chris pointed out in Chris’s post” as opposed to “As he pointed out in his post” for example.)
I love this job; I’m lucky to do this kind of work – it’s really fun, challenging, and it keeps me incredibly busy. Outside of work, I have a personal life that sometimes makes it challenging to keep up with every deadline and commitment at work: I am a father of two little humans and a partner.
Why did you decide to take this class?
What do you want me to know about you that might have an impact on your learning, engagement, and presence in the class this semester?
I got really good at this stuff with lots – and I mean lots – of work and effort. I faced a lot of challenges that I will tell you about in the coming weeks; I made a lot of mistakes in the process and learning came rather slowly for me. But I did it – and so can you!
What are you most looking forward to in this class? What are you worried about?
Is there anything else you want to share with me at this point?
Thank you. I honor and very much value your generosity in sharing a little bit more about you with me. We have the entire semester ahead of us to get to know each other, and I look forward to it!
Now let’s do some music theory. . .
References & Further Reading: Belongingess in the Learning Environment
Addy, T. M. (2021). What inclusive instructors do: Principles and practices for excellence in college teaching. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Bye, L., Muller, F., & Oprescu, F. (2019). The impact of social capital on student wellbeing and university life satisfaction: A semester-long repeated measures study. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(5), 898-912. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2019.1705253
Good, C., Rattan, A., & Dweck, C.S. (2012). Why do women opt out? Sense of belonging and women’s representation in mathematics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(4), 700-717. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026659
Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science (New York, N.Y.), 331(6023), 1447–1451. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.119836
Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2007). A question of belonging: race, social fit, and achievement. Journal of personality and social psychology, 92(1), 82–96. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199
Walton, G., Logel, C., Peach, J., Spencer, S., & Zanna, M. (2015). Two Brief Interventions to Mitigate a “Chilly Climate” Transform Women’s Experience, Relationships, and Achievement in Engineering. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(2), 468–485. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037461
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