Cardiff Metropolitan University
A Sense of Belonging 15-4-24.pdf (887.65 kB)

A Sense of Belonging

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posted on 2024-04-15, 10:19 authored by Mark Sutcliffe

Belonging and its impact upon engagement and motivation have been at the heart of my teaching philosophy for many years, shaping my teaching practice, and impacting upon wider issues regarding the design of module and programme curriculum. My research within this field has been an attempt to better understand the processes at work in shaping belonging and exploring how modules and programmes might better promote and integrate belonging strategies into both their formal and extra-curricular curriculum in the face of rising student numbers and a diverse student cohort. My work has sought to promote a practical, interventionist dimension in teaching deliver and management at both a module and programme management level. My aim has always been to demonstrate the value of my research through its use and application to teaching practice.

In the critical narrative below, I will outline the case for the originality of my contribution to the scholarship within this field and establish both the underpinning theoretical perspectives supporting my work, and the appropriateness of the methodological approach I have adopted throughout my research.

The work I have published in the past ten years has a distinct yet unified methodological philosophy and a desire to establish the importance of belonging within the student’s educational experience. It provides a coherent and consistent narrative in deepening our understanding of the social and emotive aspect of education, and recognition that successful programmes of study need to ensure that academic content and knowledge, is not pursued as the sole arbiter of best practice in programme and module design. In fact, finding time within and outside of the curriculum to promote the social space is critical. To embed the student’s values, views, and experience, allowing the student voice to be heard, will create a programme of study where students feel they truly belong, and the community of practice this generates is genuine, far reaching and a key foundation for educational success.

The primary themes that my work has been used to enhance and deepen; active student engagement, valuing the student, and peer relationships, have produced a series of six inter-related sub-themes that have captured the span and scope of areas within which my work has been used to enhance our understanding of the student experience. My research, I believe, offers a valuable contribution in its entirety by clearly establishing the links and connections between elements such as classroom innovation and flexible pedagogy, curriculum design, and belonging and the formation of a community of practice. Likewise, how student inclusion rests upon the role of safe learning spaces and the relationships that exist within them. It is through these connections, and the holistic way of viewing the student experience that I believe my work has most to contribute to this field of study.



  • School of Management

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Publication year


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