Exploring a Sense of Belonging in Undergraduate Commuter Students
Hausmann et al. (2007) define a sense of belonging as "the psychological sense that one is a valued member of the college community" (p. 804). This definition suggests that students who feel welcomed and supported on campus will believe they represent a valued addition to the student body and thus encourage more student engagement. The client organization for this capstone project is the Office of Student Affairs at Virginia University (pseudonym). University surveys and Student Affairs observations show an evident disconnect between commuter students and engagement on campus. In addition, Student Affairs leadership believes that a diminishing sense of belonging contributes to commuter students not participating in student life on campus. This quality improvement project sought to examine a sense of belonging in undergraduate commuter students at Virginia University through interviews and focus groups. Based on my findings, four recommendations were offered to Virginia University as ways to increase a sense of belonging and institutionalize support for undergraduate commuter students on campus.
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