Dr Nicholas Bowskill.
Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.5
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Belonging is often discussed in terms of an individual’s relationship to an institution. In terms of student retention, could this be a secondary issue? The development of social-group membership is discussed as a primary focus and a mediator of institutional belonging. ‘Student-Generated Induction’ is introduced as ‘Pedagogy for Belonging.’
Belonging is usually discussed in terms of an individual’s relationship to an institution. At the same time, pedagogy of belonging is often conceptualised as the development of tutor-student relationships (Beck and Malley, 1998, Malsbary, 2012).
These relationships may be of secondary importance. The suggestion here is that peer-group membership offers a more effective basis through which to address institutional retention. Significantly, the peer-group can mediate between individuals and institutional belonging (Haslam et al., 2003). This sub-group membership may also be more meaningful to students and more practical to achieve. Focusing upon this peer-relationship, ‘Student-Generated Induction’ is introduced as pedagogy for belonging.
According to social identity theory (Tajfel, 1974, Turner, 1975), we may belong to many different social groups (race, gender, social class, nationality, etc.). Each of these groups has values, beliefs and practices held in common by its members. These norms are re-constituted in each social interaction. Therefore it can be potentially useful to uncover these ad-hoc (for this) norms through dialogue conceptualised as group-work for student induction. This is work which is about, at, and for the group level.
If we can create a sense of group membership in the student cohort, and have them co-construct their ad-hoc norms, then we will have a window on how each individual may think, feel and behave on a group-relevant issue (Swaab et al., 2007). This is because social norms are held, albeit subjectively, in the mind of each individual member. By transforming student induction into this group-work, we may achieve several important aims. Firstly, we may induce a sense of belonging and secondly, we create the opportunity to provide a socially-contingent response.
Rather than broadcasting information to a room full of individuals at induction, ‘Student-Generated Induction’ (Bowskill, 2013) is a social and participative practice organised around the development of entitativity (a sense of being a group), group-situated thinking (what the group is currently thinking) and a sense of group-membership. This is achieved through the use of various protocols each of which supports dialogue and social interaction. Underpinning this process is the aim to make explicit the common ground which exists amongst students as a group of new arrivals at this university.
Walton describes a technique specifically designed to promote a sense of belonging (Walton and Cohen, 2011). This is discussed as “a non-academic intervention that may have academic consequences.” ‘Student-Generated Induction’ is a similar intervention, for the same purposes, developed into ‘pedagogy for belonging.’
Multiple benefits may be achieved by using this approach. They include support for improved mental health, well-being, socialisation and learning performance. This is because each of these benefits is positively associated with a sense of belonging to various social-groups (Sani, 2011, Jetten et al., 2009).
Beck, M. and J. Malley (1998). “A pedagogy of belonging.” Reclaiming Children and Youth 7(3): 133-137.
Bowskill, N. (2013). Student-Generated Induction: A Social Identity Approach to a Complex World. Higher Education as if the World Mattered. University of Edinburgh.
Haslam, S. A., R. A. Eggins and K. J. Reynolds (2003). “The ASPIRe model: Actualizing Social and Personal Identity Resources to enhance organizational outcomes.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 76(1): 83-113.
Jetten, J., C. Haslam, S. A. Haslam and N. R. Branscombe (2009). “The social cure.” Scientific American Mind 20(5): 26-33.
Malsbary, C. B. (2012). “The Pedagogy of Belonging: The social, cultural, and academic lives of recently-arrived immigrant youth in a multi-ethnic, multilingual high school.”
Sani, F. (2011). “Group identification, social relationships, and health.” The social cure: Identity, health and well-being: 21-38.
Swaab, R., T. Postmes, I. Van Beest and R. Spears (2007). “Shared cognition as a product of, and precursor to, shared identity in negotiations.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 33(2): 187-199.
Tajfel, H. (1974). “Social identity and intergroup behaviour.” Social Sciences Information/Information sur les Sciences Sociales 13: 65-93.
Turner, J. C. (1975). “Social comparison and social identity: Some prospects for intergroup behaviour.” European Journal of Social Psychology 5(1): 1-34.
Walton, G. M. and G. L. Cohen (2011). “A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students.” Science 331(6023): 1447-1451.