Creating a Departmental Climate that Increases a Student’s Sense of Belonging, Perceived Faculty Support, and Satisfaction with the Major


Research shows that a lack of peer study support, particularly a lack of friends in the major, is linked to students switching majors. Furthermore, strong relationships with faculty have a significant influence on students’ decisions to persist in the major. However, it is unclear how the creation of an environment that fosters student research and professional development can improve these aspects of the college experience, namely forming a sense of belonging in the major or raising levels of satisfaction with the major. I examine a holistic approach to student involvement in the major that engages students in research and provides multiple opportunities for students to form strong bonds with both students and faculty. Specifically, I analyze survey data of the effects of student involvement in a three-year scholarship program that focuses on providing faculty mentorship of student research, multiple opportunities for professional development and multiple connections with faculty and scholarship recipients across three universities. Overall, findings show that the scholarship program is having a positive impact on scholars. Scholars have a higher sense of belonging and have high levels of satisfaction in their majors.

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  1. 1.

    Roscoe (1975) developed rules of thumb with respect to sample size and behavioral research. For multivariate research, Roscoe recommended the sample size be at least ten times larger than the number of variables. As we have 6 independent variables in our model, our sample of 130 meets this rule. We have also checked sufficiency of the data by conducting a split half analysis of consistency (Martin & Bateson, 1993). With this analysis, the data are divided randomly into two halves, which are then analyzed separately. If both sets of data generate the same conclusions (as determined by a correlation coefficient higher than 0.7), then sufficient data have been collected.


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This work was supported by a National Science Foundation S-STEM grant [grant number 1564954].

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J.C. designed the research, developed the framework, collected and analyzed data, and wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Jessica A. Crowe.

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Crowe, J.A. Creating a Departmental Climate that Increases a Student’s Sense of Belonging, Perceived Faculty Support, and Satisfaction with the Major. Innov High Educ 46, 95–109 (2021).

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  • Student research
  • Sense of belonging
  • Student satisfaction
  • Student success