- Evidence Snacks
- The power of belonging
The power of belonging
How belonging shapes behaviour and learning
Hope you’re staying cool and bridging that knowing-doing gap. Today we kick off a new series on the power of belonging…
Big idea 🍉
The behaviour and attitudes of others has a huge influence on our own. When a large number of people within a group (like a class or school) adopt a similar behaviour this 'social norm' effect becomes so powerful that it can often override more formal policies and rules.
It's the reason my son won't put his socks on for me, yet his teacher can get him and 25 other kids to do waaay more complex stuff for hours on end.
(Next time, I just need to get 25 kids to come around to my house and all put their socks on at the same time)
Social norms are powerful. However, the strength of their influence rests heavily on how much we feel part of and identify with those exhibiting the norms. In short, behaviour and learning are partly a product of 'belonging' in school.
The more we feel we belong to a group, the more we invest in its goals and adopt its norms. The less we feel we belong to a group, the less we will be open to its influence, to the extent that we may even oppose what it advocates.
We see this in action when teenagers start to identify more with their peer group than their family group—and their actions and attitudes shift as a result.
Belonging doesn’t just drive behaviour and learning, it impacts health and happiness too. Being part of something bigger than ourselves simply feels good, whereas not fitting in can fuel depression and even reduce life expectancy :(
The need for kinship is particularly prevalent in times of personal change. It is little surprise that belonging can be a core concern for many students, and potentially all-consuming for adolescents.
In the following Snacks, we'll explore strategies for building belonging in school. But the first step is just to raise our awareness of it's prevalence and impact.
Left unchecked, grouping within schools can easily divide as much as unite, prejudicing those students who stand to benefit from belonging the most. For reasons of equity as much as learning, it’s important that we build that awareness and take an intentional approach to building belonging in school.
Challenge → How does belonging play out in your classes and school? How intentional is your (and your colleagues) approach to building it?
Little links 🥕
On trend → This week, we have a new working paper on the (positive) influence of student mentoring, and a meta-analysis exploring the effects of self- and peer-assessment on student attainment.
Bonus → A compilation of the 50 hottest edu-twitter threads of the last 6 months 🥳
Pursue less, but better.