Cultivating a sense of belonging in part-time students
This study investigated the sense of belonging of part-time students through interviews with 53 novice or experienced students enrolled in part-time programmes in Hong Kong. It was found that students were more easily able to affiliate with their class groups or teaching staff than with their department or university. Seven methods are suggested for promoting a sense of belonging. Class cohesiveness can be developed through learning activities and maintaining classes as a cohort. Relationships with teaching staff can be developed through encouraging interaction, providing good quality teaching and making a positive initial impression. There was also evidence that a sense of belonging was more likely to develop if enrolment was through departments and part-time students had access to resources and facilities. The data showed that promoting a sense of belonging contributed to better quality learning outcomes and increased the chances of students completing programmes.