Must Read Blog September 26, 2023

Cultivating and Increasing Belonging for Learners

Studies show that belonging impacts several student outcomes, including increased engagement; academic performance including persistence, retention, completion rates; and personal growth and wellbeing. We surveyed 2,056 students at 2- and 4-year public and private institutions in March of 2023 about their experiences related to learning in the classroom and institutional support outside of it. We then examined the data to identify ways that experiences were correlated with increased levels of self-reported feelings of belonging.

Awareness of Support Services Correlates to Stronger Feelings of Belonging

As show in the chart below, learners with a stronger sense of belonging report a greater awareness level of the breadth of student supports available (out of a list of fourteen commonly available students supports). This same trend holds for student utilization of the breadth of available student support services.

Tyton Partners Listening to Learners 2023: Student belonging and awareness of support services

Student awareness and usage of student support services is positively correlated with a sense of belonging, but only half of students report awareness of services that are nearly universally available at institutions. Institutions must shift to proactive and targeted communications to effectively reach students most in need of student support services. Solution providers can support institutions in these efforts by actively reminding students of all services available to them at critical moments. For more details on how to customize messaging for sub-populations and optimize channel(s) of outreach, please see our full report: Listening to Learners.

Tyton Partners Listening to Learners 2023: Student awareness and utilization of available support services

Academic Advising Most Critical Support Service for Re-enrollment

From the data in the chart above, we observe that academic advising is the most utilized student support service provided. Moreover, 37% of learners identified academic advising as the service with the most impact on their decisions to remain enrolled for the next term (see below). Why might this be the case?

Tyton Partners Listening to Learners 2023: "How important are the following support services to your decision to re-enroll next term?"

Students Share What They Learned from Advisors

Though students overwhelmingly used the open-ended question, “What did you learn (if anything) from your advisor?” to share how their advisors supported their course selection and helped them navigate course registration, they also highlighted that their academic advisors are crucial in informing them about other available resources. This aspect of interaction with advisors is essential for offering comprehensive and coordinated support services.

Tyton Partners Listening to Learners 2023 quote
Tyton Partners Listening to Learners 2023 quote
Tyton Partners Listening to Learners 2023 quote

Advisors Crucial to Increasing Awareness of Other Support Services

Consistent with student input on what they value from their advising sessions, advisors share in the chart below how they spend their time each day. Outside of helping students with the mechanics of planning which courses to take, primary-role advisors (i.e., professional advisors) spend time each day liaising with other student support offices for referrals. Any institutional effort to enhance awareness and utilization of student supports should consider the involvement of academic advisors (as well as other institutional stakeholders with regular student interactions like faculty) to enhance student engagement with the resources at hand.

Tyton Partners Listening to Learners 2023: Daily academic advisor activities

If increasing belonging and increasing awareness of student supports is top of mind for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. The insights shared in this article are only the tip of the iceberg as far as what we’ve learned in our research, Listening to Learners.