Developing a Sense of Belonging Through Engagement with Like-Minded Peers: A Matter of Equity


A sense of belonging means feeling accepted, appreciated, and understood in our relationships with individuals and groups of people. However, students who have abilities and qualities that are exceptionally advanced and qualitatively different from their same age peers may experience a sense of alienation. Gifted students are seeking intellectual, social, and emotional connectedness. This study explores the perspectives of gifted students, their parents, and teachers in relation to developing belonging through opportunities to engage with like-minded peers. The gifted students in this study were seeking relationships with others who thought in similar ways to themselves, as intellectual peers and friends both in and outside school. The study concludes that, for the gifted students in this study, their engagement with like-minded peers afforded opportunities for belonging and connectedness. Having a sense of school belonging removes a potential barrier to achievement for gifted learners, and this, it is argued, is a matter of equity.

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The authors would like to acknowledge Janna Wardman, Deborah Walker, and Carola Sampson for their involvement in this research. We would also like to thank the Gifted Kids Board of Directors, teachers, parents, and most importantly, students, for their engagement in this research.

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Correspondence to Tracy Riley.

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Riley, T., White, V. Developing a Sense of Belonging Through Engagement with Like-Minded Peers: A Matter of Equity. NZ J Educ Stud 51, 211–225 (2016).

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  • Belonging
  • Equity
  • Gifted
  • Like-minded peers