Q: What are our students’ perceptions of how they fit in on campus?
A: The iBelong Project was launched in Spring 2019 to better understand student experiences at UNCG. The project utilized the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) survey developed by the National Institute for Transformation and Equity.
This is the first of a three-part series that highlights the results of the survey and how the data can be useful for faculty and staff in their interaction with students.
The CECE survey measures college students’ perceptions of their campus environment through questions about aspects such as cultural groups, meaningful cross-cultural engagement, the ways in which faculty and staff support students, holistic support, and experiences around diversity and inclusion.
An example question asked of the students was: “When you think about sense of belonging, what does that mean to you?” One response was: “Feeling like I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.” This kind of response raises the question about how we as a University are creating deep relationships during our interactions with students.
In the survey, students overwhelmingly reported a large degree of satisfaction with their experience at UNCG. 85% reported they were satisfied/very satisfied with their experience, and less than 5% reported feeling dissatisfied. In the open-ended follow-up question, students reported that their interaction with staff and faculty were the top two reasons for this satisfaction.
For the deeper connection question, students reported lower agreement on the their sense of belonging questions: 64% agreed or strongly agreed that “I feel like I am part of a community at UNCG,” 71% agreed or strongly agreed that “I feel like I belong at UNCG,” and 54% agreed or strongly agreed that “I feel a strong connection to UNCG.”
These responses matter to us as an institution because of the impact that sense of belonging has on retention (Tinto, 1993; Braxton, Milem, & Sullivan, 2000; Sandler, 2000). The table below provides a visual representation of the UNCG retention rates based how the students responded.
The data suggests that helping students build a deeper connection to the University and deeper relationships with peers are areas that we can focus on as faculty and staff to impact student success and persistence.
Part 2 and 3 of the iBelong survey results will be published in UNCG News in coming weeks.
Story by Matthew Bryant, University Communications