Classroom experiences that predict sense of belonging and academic performance within the community college math classroom
The purpose of this correlational research was to examine whether community college students' classroom experiences predict their sense of class belonging. Sense of belonging has been linked to persistence decisions of Hispanic students as well as the academic success of these students at four-year institutions. Little work has been done to explore students' sense of belonging within a classroom and its relationship to academic outcomes outside of a four-year institutional context. The two main research questions included examining whether demographic, pre-college/environmental pull, psychosocial, and classroom experiences collectively predict (1) sense of belonging and (2) course performance in a math classroom. A survey was administered to 302 students enrolled in college level math courses at a community college in south Texas. Two multiple hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to assess which predictor variables were significant predictors of sense of belonging and course performance respectively. Results indicated that peer support, faculty validation, math efficacy, and degree of collaboration significantly and positively predicted sense of belonging within the math classroom. Findings also indicated that only math efficacy and math anxiety were significant predictors of course performance. The study concluded that higher degrees of collaborative learning and peer interactions can lead to cohesion and higher sense of class belonging but better academic preparation alone is not significantly related to better course performance.