First Advisor

Erin Shortlidge

Date of Award

Spring 6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology and University Honors






College teachers -- Attitudes, Science -- Study and teaching (Higher), College students -- Attitudes, Belonging (Social psychology), Social integration




Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields have historically had low undergraduate retention rates. To aid in counteracting this, classroom exercises, or 'belonging interventions' can play a vital role in keeping new STEM students motivated through the "cultural shock" period of the college transition. However, much is still unknown about STEM instructors' perceptions on belonging interventions in STEM classrooms. Would understanding students' lives and experiences in the past and present help them make better informed decisions in their teaching practices?

To answer this question, we drew upon results from a belonging intervention conducted by the Biology Education Research (BER) group at Portland State University. The activity was entitled: Our Lives Lived (OLL). The OLL activity was a self-report questionnaire exploring if STEM students agreed with various statements related to life and identity-related experiences. Student responses (n=692) were compiled and presented to STEM instructors at PSU via a survey instrument.

Through both close-ended quantitative questions and open-ended qualitative prompts, we elicited both the facultys' reception to the OLL exercise as well as their opinions on the values and applications of a belonging intervention exercise in their own classroom. We had an overall faculty n = 92 for complete responses, and a bimodal distribution in initial reception of learning about their students' lived experiences. Further, inductive coding of their open-ended responses revealed 8 emergent values and applications that instructors believe hold true for using a belonging intervention exercise in their classroom. Consequently, this supports our hypothesis that acknowledging the value of "belonging" in education may be beneficial to students and faculty alike in achieving educational and teaching successes.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier