Foster a sense of belonging and community

Core pedagogical principle #2

What does this principle mean?

Students’ sense of belonging to the University and disciplinary community is closely associated to how they perceive their educational experience. Feeling a sense of connection to peers, teachers, and their studies has a positive impact on persistence. Educators play a key role in establishing environments that help students build this sense of connection. Complementary to core principle #1 (build positive teacher-student relationships), this core principle emphasises student-student and student-community belonging.


  • Provide opportunities for students to meet and learn from a diverse range of fellow students in each unit and program.
  • Design teaching and learning activities that deliberately build connections between students, especially if there are groups working in different spaces (e.g. remote and in-person).
  • Emphasise the strengths of cohort diversity, helping students to recognise the rich contributions that each of them can make.


  • Run in-class activities to create a genuine sense of belonging among all students which reflects our shared values and our commitment to a research-enriched knowledge environment
  • Design and support peer learning opportunities
  • For first year units, deliberately include meaningful opportunities for dialogue, for example using transition activities
  • For fully face-to-face small classes:
    • Have the students move around the classroom for group work
    • Work with tangible artefacts (e.g. post-its, physical models, paper and pen) and minimise use of teacher-led presentations
  • For fully online classes, use breakout rooms for substantive activities
  • For HyFlex classes:
    • Use a second screen or part of the main screen to show the faces of the online students
    • Reserve some work for the remote students and dedicate time to them by including their questions in Q&A and by asking them to select discussion topics
    • Run safe activities which invite, elevate, and share student voice and personal experiences
    • Encourage use of discussion forums by directing and regularly answering questions there and by seeding questions and prompts if necessary