Journal of Appreciative Education

An Appreciative Approach to Building a Sense of Belonging Among First-Year Students

Cortney L. Stein


A sense of belonging is a key contributing factor to student retention and engagement. Sense of belonging is defined as, “students’ perceived social support on campus, a feeling or sensation of connectedness, the experience of mattering or feeling cared about, accepted, respected, valued by, and important to the group and others on campus” (Strayhorn, 2012, p. 3). Sense of belonging is a mid-level need that needs to be satisfied before students can begin to learn and thrive on campus. At Nova Southeastern University, program administrators for the Razor’s Edge Shark Teach program work to intentionally build a sense of belonging among students beginning during recruitment. By utilizing the Appreciative Advising framework, administrators strive to create a community that leads to higher GPAs, increased graduation rates, and better retention.


Appreciative Advising; sense of belonging; retention; undergraduate

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ISSN: 2165-5421