Sense of Place and Belonging: Lessons from the Pandemic




pandemic learning, remote learning, in-person learning, higher education, communities of practice


This study investigates how students experienced a sense of place and a sense of belonging in both in-person and virtual learning environments by analyzing student interview data. As educators and university students grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we consider how students experience the presence and absence of sense of place and belonging, and how this could inform faculty and staff practices. We conclude by offering recommendations for university educators, with a particular focus on the benefits of building communities of practice.


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Author Biographies

Linda Adler-Kassner, University of California, Santa Barbara

Linda Adler-Kassner is associate vice chancellor of teaching and learning; faculty director of the Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning; and professor of writing studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on studying and creating equitable institutional structures.

Margarita Safronova, University of California, Santa Barbara

Margarita Safronova is associate director of the Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning at University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on development and implementation of teaching innovations that foster equitable learning experience for students in higher education.

Yasmine Dominguez-Whitehead, University of California, Santa Barbara

Yasmine Dominguez-Whitehead is transitions director at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research has been broadly concerned with under-served students; race, gender, and class in higher education; and food insecurity on college campuses.

Karen Gonzalez, University of California, Santa Barbara

Karen Gonzalez is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where she earned her B.S. in psychological and brain sciences. Her research focused on student success factors among transfer students at UCSB.

Stephanie Nguyen, University of California, Santa Barbara

Stephanie Nguyen is an undergraduate University of California, Santa Barbara student and peer mentor at the Opening Dew Doors to Accelerating Success (ONDAS) Student Center. Her work focuses on helping first-generation college students make their transition into higher education.

Malaphone Phommasa, University of California, Santa Barbara

Malaphone Phommasa is assistant dean of Academic Success Initiatives in the Office of Teaching and Learning at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on providing first-generation college students and transfer students with equitable access to opportunities and resources in higher education.


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Sketches comparing a student's learning environment before and after COVID.




How to Cite

Adler-Kassner, Linda, Margarita Safronova, Yasmine Dominguez-Whitehead, Karen Gonzalez, Stephanie Nguyen, and Malaphone Phommasa. 2022. “Sense of Place and Belonging: Lessons from the Pandemic”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 10 (October).