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Sense of belonging among students preparing for early childhood-related careers

Description:

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for higher education institutions to take a holistic approach to early childhood teacher preparation, which includes fostering students’ social connections at the university. Using an online survey, this study examined perceptions of whether and how the pandemic disrupted sense of belonging (SoB) and career preparation among students with early-childhood related career interests. We further examined how students’ individual personal characteristics (personality, adult attachment) and involvement in student groups/clubs relate to multiple aspects of their SoB. Participants included a racially/ethnically diverse group of first- and non- first-generation undergraduate and graduate students (N = 79) at a public US university. In response to open-ended questions, students reported pandemic-related losses of connection to peers and of opportunities to gain hands-on experience with children, negatively impacting their SoB and career preparation. Key quantitative findings indicated that, beyond the effects of personal characteristics, participation in student groups was associated with a higher sense of peer support. Further, only involvement in early childhood-focused student groups was positively associated with students’ sense of mattering at college. These findings inform universities’ efforts to foster student engagement and connection, particularly by providing opportunities to engage with peers who share career interests. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
Country:
United States

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