The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the sense of belonging of state college transfer students who enroll at a large research-intensive university through structured and unstructured transfer pathways using the Sense of Belonging Instrument (SBI; Hoffman, Richmond, Morrow, & Solomon, 2002). The SBI includes five subscales (Peer Support, Faculty Support, Classroom Comfort, Isolation, and Empathetic Faculty Understanding). To date, no systematic investigation has considered the construct of belonging with this population or transfer pathway. The findings from this study (n = 54) found a positive statistically significant correlation between Peer Support and Isolation (r(52) =.801, p = .000) and a statistically significant difference between the mean values of Empathetic Faculty Understanding between the structured and unstructured pathways (p = 0.027). This study showed that structured transfer pathway student sense of belonging was grounded in the classroom experience, empathetic faculty, and faculty support. Unstructured transfer pathway student sense of belonging was grounded in peer relationships, the classroom experience, and empathetic faculty. First generation participants were more likely to perceive isolation than non-first generation participants and structured pathway participants were more likely to perceive faculty empathetic understanding than unstructured pathway participants. There were also differences in the qualitative data between the pathway groups, including differing perceptions of faculty care and empathy, peer engagement, and the role of Advisors and online support systems in the transfer experience. The data and findings presented in this study show that the academic experience in the classroom and the perception of empathetic faculty are central to state college transfer student experience and contributes to transfer student sense of belonging.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Teaching, Learning and Leadership
Educational Leadership; Executive EdD Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Brady, Claire, "An Investigation of State College to University Transfer Students' Sense of Belonging" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5381.