Teacher Practice and Students’ Sense of Belonging

  • Karen F. OstermanEmail author


The purpose of this chapter is to examine recent research (published and unpublished) that expands our understanding of the significant role that the sense of belonging plays in learning, with a focus on aspects of teacher practice that either enhance or detract from students’ experience. Specifically, this research provides evidence that students perceived as “problematic” are less likely to experience belongingness and more likely to experience isolation or rejection by teachers and peers. These experiences, in turn, contribute to anger, directed toward self and others, further aggravating the problem. At the same time, other research illustrates that attention to students’ academic needs, as well as their personal needs and the utilization of effective teacher practices, enhances the sense of belonging and engagement in the classroom.


Behavioral Problem Emotional Wellbeing Goal Orientation Instructional Strategy Autonomy Support 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderman, L. H. (2003). Academic and social perceptions as predictors of change in middle school students’ sense of school belonging. The Journal of Experimental Education, 72(1), 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Argyris, C., & Schon, D. A. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  3. Argyris, C., & Schon, D. A. (1978). Organizational learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  4. Beatty, B. R., & Brew, C. R. (2004). Trusting relationships and emotional epistemologies: A foundational leadership issue. School Leadership and Management, 24. 329–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Certo, J. L., Cauley, K. M., & Chafin, C. (2003). Students’ perspectives on their high school experience. Adolescence, 38, 705–724.Google Scholar
  6. Connell, J. P., Halpern-Felsher, B. L., Clifford, E., Crichlow, W., & Usinger, P. (1995). Hanging in there: Behavioral, psychological, and contextual factors affecting whether African American adolescents stay in high school. Journal of adolescent research, 10, 41–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cothran, D. J., & Ennis, C. D. (2000). Building bridges to student engagement: Communicating respect and care for students in urban high schools. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 33, 106–117.Google Scholar
  8. FitzSimmons, V. C. (2006). Relatedness: The foundation for the engagement of middle school students during the transitional year of sixth grade. Unpublished Dissertation, Hempstead, NY: Hofstra University.Google Scholar
  9. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  10. Goodenow, C. (1993). The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30(January), 79–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Griffin, C. (2008). The usual suspects: Cultivating a sense of belonging in at-risk boys. Unpublished Dissertation, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.Google Scholar
  12. Hargreaves, A. (2001). Emotional geographies of teaching. Teachers College Record, 103, 1056–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Herr, K., & Anderson, G. L. (2003). Violent youth or violent schools? A critical incident analysis of symbolic violence. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 6, 415–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kottkamp, R. B., & Silverberg, R. P. (1999a, April). Exploring the mental models of administrative aspirants: Assumptions about students, teaching and learning. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal.Google Scholar
  15. Kottkamp, R. B., & Silverberg, R. P. (1999b). Learning formal theory through constructivism and reflective practice: Professor and student perspectives. Educational Administration and Leadership: Teaching and Program Development, 11, 47–59.Google Scholar
  16. Kottkamp, R. B., & Silverberg, R. P. (1999c, March). Reconceptualizing students at risk: Teacher assumptions about “the problematic student.” Paper presented at the Research Network: Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education, European Education Research Association, Valletta, Malta.Google Scholar
  17. Leithwood, K., & Beatty, B. (2008). Leading with teacher emotions in mind. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  18. Lewis, J. L., & Kim, E. (2008). A desire to learn: African American children’s positive attitudes toward learning within school cultures of low expectations. Teachers College Record, 110, 1304–1329.Google Scholar
  19. LoVerde, D. (2007). Rules of engagement: Teacher practices that meet psychological needs of students with disabilities in an inclusion science classroom. Unpublished Dissertation, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.Google Scholar
  20. Osterman, K. F. (2000). Students’ need for belonging in the school community. Review of Educational Research, 70, 323–367.Google Scholar
  21. Osterman, K. F., & Kottkamp, R. B. (2004). Reflective practice for educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ozer, E. J., Wolf, J. P., & Kong, C. (2008). Sources of perceived school connection among ethnically-diverse urban adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23, 438–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Roland, E., & Galloway, D. (2002). Classroom influences on bullying. Educational Research, 44, 299–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ryan, R. M., & Brown, K.W. (2005). Legislating competence: High-stakes testing policies and their relations with psychological theories and research. In E. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 354–372, Part IV). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  25. Schwamb, J. (2005). Exploring the school experience of students who bully: A look in side the classroom. Unpublished Dissertation, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.Google Scholar
  26. Silverberg, R. P. (2002). From marginalization to relational space: A descriptive phenomenological study of teachers who changed their assumptions and beliefs about problematic students. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.Google Scholar
  27. Silverberg, R. P. (2003). Leading in the relational space. Journal of School Leadership, 13, 688–706.Google Scholar
  28. Siris, K. (2001). Using action research to alleviate bullying and victimization in the classroom. Unpublished Dissertation, Hempstead, NY: Hofstra University.Google Scholar
  29. Siris, K., & Osterman, K. F. (2004). Interrupting the cycle of bullying and victimization in the elementary classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 85, 288–291.Google Scholar
  30. Stevens, T., Hamman, D., & Olivarez, A., Jr. (2007). Hispanic students’ perception of white teachers’ mastery goal orientation influences sense of school belonging. Journal of Latinos and Education, 6, 55–70.Google Scholar
  31. Talay-Ongan, A., McNaught, M., & Robertson, J. (2002). Teacher-child relatedness in the forefront: Mia Mia. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference Brisbane, Australia.Google Scholar
  32. Valli, L., & Buese, D. (2007). The Changing roles of teachers in an era of high-stakes accountability. American Educational Research Journal, 44, 519–558.Google Scholar
  33. Yazzie-Mintz, E. (2007).Voices of students on engagement: A report on the 2006 High School Survey of Student Engagement. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hofstra UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations