The Benefits of Creating a Sense of Belonging for Students and Faculty

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Brief Abstract

Providing students and faculty with authentic opportunities to interact, share, and support each other is key to a strong institutional community and long term student success. Listen as Dr. Omid Fotuhi, Research Associate at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of Innovation at WGU Labs, walks us through the research behind belonging and why having an intentional community strategy is so important in higher education today. We’ll be addressing your questions live in the VoiceThread!


Katy is an impact-driven CEO who has spent 20 years creating solutions that extend access to high-quality education for every student. She is the co-founder and CEO of InScribe, an innovative collaboration platform that helps improve student engagement and build community with a focus on supporting non-traditional and underserved student populations. Leveraging her experience and strategic abilities, Katy specializes in ed-tech innovations, student success, and communities of belonging.
Dr. Fotuhi is a social psychologist with a research focus on motivation and optimal performance. He is also a nationally recognized speaker, with over 15 years of experience in training students, athletes, and leaders to optimize their performance. Dr. Fotuhi earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Waterloo and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University. He currently holds an affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh. With a deep understanding of psychological theory and research methodology, Dr. Fotuhi has devoted his career to translating key insights from research on performance optimization into actionable strategies that help to improve critical outcomes in the domains of academics, athletics, leadership, and personal growth.

Extended Abstract

When students start college they ask themselves three important questions that will ultimately shape their path:

  1. Do I belong?
  2. Can I do it?
  3. Does it matter?

Providing meaningful answers to students at this stage helps establish their sense of belonging and inclusion from the beginning of the student journey. We know that almost a third of students don’t make it beyond their first year. How could we change those numbers if we helped every student feel they like are on the right journey from day one?

But students are not the only members of our learning community that need to feel engaged and supported along the way. Faculty also face moments of uncertainty, worry, and frustration. Making sure they have access to an engaged community of peers where they can seek advice, share ideas, and find supportive words helps them stay motivated and feel that their voice is being heard.

Join Dr. Omid Fotuhi, Research Associate at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of Innovation at WGU Labs, and Katy Kappler, CEO of InScribe as they discuss the important role digital communities play in faculty and student success across the higher education landscape.