Open navigation

Learning Condition Spotlight: Belonging Certainty

Feeling valued and connected to others in one's learning community is positively associated with student well-being, academic engagement, and performance. By assessing students' perceptions of their belonging, instructors can identify opportunities for improvement. Below are some insights on the importance of cultivating Belonging Certainty and strategies for improving this learning condition.

A. What is Belonging Certainty and why does it matter?

Belonging uncertainty is the concern people have about the extent to which they belong, or fit in, in different contexts or across time. Social isolation and belonging uncertainty are negatively associated with achievement, performance, and well-being. Belonging certainty is the absence of this concern.

This item was developed by Dr. David Yeager and colleagues at the Carnegie Foundation and has been found to be a strong predictor of student persistence and success in their courses. Watch the video below to hear more from Dr. Yeager about the importance of cultivating Belonging Certainty in higher education courses.

B. How is Belonging Certainty measured?
As of 2023-24, Ascend measures Belonging Certainty by asking students “When thinking about this class, how often, if ever, do you wonder ‘Maybe I don’t belong here?’”

Students respond to this question on a 5 point scale and the percentages in Ascend reports reflect the portion of participants who select “hardly ever” or “never.” These two answers suggest that the participant feels a high degree of certainty about their belonging in the class.
C. How can I improve Belonging Certainty?
Many professors have improved Belonging Certainty by creating and telling their own Belonging Story and Encouraging Connections in the Classroom. Check out these and other practices to improve belonging at

Did you find it helpful? Yes No

Send feedback
Sorry we couldn't be helpful. Help us improve this article with your feedback.