The Essence of Belonging: Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union ethnographic research into student communities (2014)

Jessica Baily, Emily Connor & Emmet Cleaver, SHU Students’ Union

Sheffield Hallam Students Union conducted a research project on the theme of ‘belonging’. The Education Officer and Welfare and Community Officer ran a series of filmed student interviews from a large range of demographics to discover exactly how students at Sheffield Hallam found their sense of belonging to their course, campus, sports team, society or within the institution. Following the interview, students were issued with cameras and were required to visually ‘capture’ this sense of belonging in a series of photographs. The research culminated in ‘The Belonging Hub’, a room and event at the Students Union of the students photographs coupled with a video documentary displaying all of their responses.

Following on from Sheffield Hallam Students Union’s research into how students forge a sense of belonging with their course, society or institution, this session was designed to engage staff with an approach to understanding how to create communities in the classroom. Using the research as a basis for discussion, participants will relate and apply the student perspective into the various challenges of teaching from classroom engagement, attendance and feedback. Members will hopefully leave with an understanding of the kinds of atmospheres students work best in and have ideas of how to replicate if not recreate these climates in their own practices.