Sense of Belonging Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Sense of belonging reflects the degree to which an individual feels included, respected, accepted, and supported by others (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Within a school context, a sense of belonging results in an individual feeling proud to belong to their school (Goodenow, 1993). A positive sense of belonging is related to an individual’s well-being (Juvonen, 2006), relationships among colleagues (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2011), and self-efficacy (Chan et al., 2008). Conversely, a lack of belonging is characterized by a variety of poor health outcomes, including mental health disturbances, and compromised immune system functioning (Baumeister & Leary, 1995).

The Learning Bar's Staff Survey framework is based on 13 core indicators designed to capture the key metrics of employee health and well-being. Together, these indicators support the development of a positive school climate.

Why is it important?

  • A collaborative climate characterized by close working relationships bolsters sense of belonging among teachers (Pesonen et al., 2021).

  • Teachers with a strong sense of belonging can, in turn, foster a sense of belonging among students (Pesonen, 2016).

  • Relationships that enhance ones’ sense of belonging promote a sense of purpose and meaning in life (Lambert et al., 2013)

How do we measure it?

The OurSCHOOL Staff Survey includes six items focused on perceptions of connectedness with the school and colleagues. The results are reported as “the percentage of staff who have a positive sense of belonging”.


Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529.

Chan, W. Y., Lau, S., Nie, Y., Lim, S., & Hogan, D. (2008). Organizational and personal predictors of teacher commitment: The mediating role of teacher efficacy and identification with school. American Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 597-630.

Goodenow, C. (1993). The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30(1), 79-90.

Juvonen, J. (2006). Sense of belonging, social bonds, and school functioning. In P. Alexander & P. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed., pp. 655-674). Macmillan.

Lambert, N. M., Stillman, T. F., Hicks, J. A., Kamble, S., Baumeister, R. F., & Fincham, F. D. (2013). To belong is to matter: Sense of belonging enhances meaning in life. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(11), 1418–1427.

Pesonen, H. (2016). Sense of belonging for students with intensive special education needs: An exploration of students’ belonging and teachers’ role in implementing support (Doctoral dissertation).

Pesonen, H. V., Rytivaara, A., Palmu, I., & Wallin, A. (2020). Teachers’ stories on sense of belonging in co-teaching relationship. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 65(3), 425-436.

Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2011). Teachers’ feeling of belonging, exhaustion, and job satisfaction: The role of school goal structure and value consonance. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 24(4), 369-385.