Interventions of the #IBelong Project

Two female students in front of the aula at Erasmus Building

The #IBelong project is an innovative programme of evidence-informed interventions to improve students’ sense of belonging and success in higher education, through creating more inclusive learning environments. #IBelong focuses on – but is not limited to – ethnic minority students and first-generation entrants in higher education.

Central in the #IBelong programme are a suite of interventions that operate at course programme level, engaging first year students, student-peer mentors, and the staff team to improve diverse students’ belonging and success. The three interventions - Dialogue Days, Team Teacher Reflection and Community Mentoring - interact as a suite of activities to improve students’ belonging, continuation and attainment.

Dialogue Days

Dialogue Days (DDs) bring together students and staff from a particular course or programme of study and create a safe space to discuss diversity, belonging and success. Staff is encouraged to communicate and demonstrate institutional and/or programme commitment to diversity, belonging and success. This allows students to engage and learn about diversity, belonging and strategies to be successful in higher education and beyond.

Dialogue Day 1 (DD1) is suggested to be delivered at the start of Semester 1 for first year students, and Dialogue Day 2 (DD2) is delivered in the second half of Semester 2, again for first year students. The first DD focuses on dialogue about diversity in relation to past experiences and expectations of the forthcoming higher education programme of study. The second DD, towards the end of the academic year, reflects on the first-year experience of studying, belonging, and succeeding in higher education, and empowers students to feel safe and supported in looking ahead to be successful in their second year of study, where there are increased academic demands and higher expectations of student autonomy.

  • Dialogue Days provide a significant opportunity for diversity, belonging and success to be openly discussed in a safe environment, benefitting both students and staff.
  • The activity enables the students and staff to identify and share experiences, expectations, challenges, and successes. This demonstrates institutional and course commitment to recognizing and discussing these issues.
  • The conversations help students to develop a sense of belonging while providing the staff with insights to help them organize learning and support to be more inclusive of the students enrolled in the course.

Read more about the tool here and download the PDF below to learn how to implement the tool.

Team Teacher Reflection

Team Teacher Reflection (TTR) is a guided set of immersive collaborative sessions designed for teacher teams (teachers of the same course program), aimed at making teaching more inclusive and supportive of/for a diverse student body and offering teaching staff tools and support necessary to constructively deal with challenges and questions in a diverse classroom. 

TTR consists out of 3 to 4 sessions:

  • Introductory session: Towards a Frame of Reference for Sense of Belonging. The goal is to

 a) introduce the concept of Sense of Belonging to your Teacher Team and

 b) collect input for a Frame of Reference on Sense of Belonging formulated by members of the  teacher team.

  • Two to three follow up meetings: Reflection on Sense of Belonging Cases. Teachers discuss sense of belonging cases at their course program and discuss constructive strategies for the future. Case reflections are guided by the Framework of Reference on Sense of Belonging.

  • Empowers teacher-teams to develop their capacity and confidence to enable a diverse student population to engage, belong and learn successfully.
  • Teaching staff has an important impact on the institutional culture and practices when it comes to in class dynamics and the teacher-student power relations, etc. The Teacher team Reflection provides this opportunity, especially to teachers in Year 1 of a course program, to become aware of the diversity of students and effectively engage with students from diverse backgrounds to create and shape an inclusive learning environment.

Read more about the tool here and download the PDF below to learn how to implement it.

Community Mentoring

Community Mentoring Programme “Students as Community Builders” is designed for experienced (graduate) students (migrant students and first-generation students), who will be trained through workshops to become community-building mentors for undergraduate students. The community-building mentors learn how to develop collaboration between groups of peers and how to engage student groups in their learning outside of the classroom. Student-Mentors support students in their independent learning strategies. Also, the community-building mentors act as role models by informing other students about their personal student pathways (e.g., challenges during study, what they enjoy most about studying and they also learn to share how they study and prepare for exams).

After these workshops, the community-building mentors receive a certificate and are now allowed to work with undergraduate students. For this purpose, learning communities are formed, each led by a community-building mentor. The community-building mentor passes on knowledge to the others and develops a supportive culture among the students.

  • The benefit for the mentors is to reflect on their own successful learning and studying strategies that can be important for their biography and following career steps.
  • Undergraduate students benefit from the student community-building in being more
    included in social student networks and they identify more with university (sense of belonging) – these aspects are highlighted as relevant for study-success and prevent drop out.

Read more about the tool here and download the PDF below to learn to how to implement the tool.

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