Examining Sense of Belonging Among Freshmen College of Agriculture Students


  • Christopher Estepp University of Arkansas
  • Will Doss University of Arkansas
  • Sarah James University of Arkansas
  • Lucas Simmons University of Arkansas
  • Donald Johnson University of Arkansas




Sense of Belonging, College of Agriculture, Freshmen Retention


Universities have consistently struggled with undergraduate student retention. However, one variable that has been shown to be an important factor related to undergraduate retention and success has been college student sense of belonging. The purpose of this study was to examine freshmen students’ perceived sense of belonging to the University of Arkansas and the College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences. First-year freshmen at the University of Arkansas (n = 233) were asked to provide responses on a survey measuring perceived sense of belonging, peer support, faculty support, empathy of faculty, class comfort, and isolation. Results showed respondents generally had a strong sense of belonging to the university and college of agriculture. Most students perceived faculty to be empathic and understanding, but also reported slightly lower levels of comfort when seeking help. Most students were neutral in perceptions of classroom comfort, meaning they may be less confident speaking in class, volunteering ideas, asking questions, and contributing to discussions. Just over half agreed they had peer support, while about a third perceived feeling isolated. Peer support, faculty support, and empathetic faculty were all predictors of sense of belonging in the college. Recommendations include using cooperative learning activities and continuing to provide opportunities for student organization participation to help students establish a sense of belonging.


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How to Cite

Estepp, C., Doss, W., James, S., Simmons, L. ., & Johnson, D. (2023). Examining Sense of Belonging Among Freshmen College of Agriculture Students. NACTA Journal, 67(1). https://doi.org/10.56103/nactaj.v67i1.137