Cultivating a Sense of Belonging

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Cultivating a Sense of Belonging

Create a Supportive Climate

One of the obstacles instructors face includes discovering where students may be struggling with course content or concepts. This is due in part to a lack of communication on the part of the students.

Their reluctance to ask questions is multifaceted. Students may not seek help because they have not connected why the course is relevant within their chosen disciplines, or they may hesitate to reach out for help because they do not want to seem “dumb” or to feel “stupid” in front of their peers or to their course instructors.

To encourage curiosity and inquiry, strategically build a sense of belonging into the course.  Current research reveals a direct link between the sense of belonging students experience and their persistence in their courses. To build a sense of community:

  • Ask for and use students’ preferred pronouns and names.
  • Acknowledge and support diversity.
  • Promote consistent communication both inside and outside of the classroom.
    • Encourage participation and invite questions.
    • Provide a means for less outgoing students to ask questions.
    • State the most effective communication method to reach you with after class.
    • Send announcements or emails to your students throughout the semester.
  • Create opportunities for collaboration and knowledge or skill sharing.

Join the WSU Community, Equity and Inclusive Excellence office as they discuss what inclusive pedagogy is, what community of practice is, and how to unite the two.

Inclusive Pedagogy: 
A Community of Practice Approach

Speakers: Dr. Jaime Nolan and Dr. Jim Burns
September 24
10 a.m.-Noon
WSU Events  |  Registration

This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.