Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Minsuk Shim


Sense of belonging and its various factors has been identified as one of the most important aspects that affects college students’ success, retention, and persistence. The purpose of this quantitative research was to explore the relationships and examine the differences between experiences in a living-learning community and students’ sense of belonging, with specific attention to underrepresented minority groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM): females and students of color. Specifically, this research examined how engineering students’ perceived experiences in their living-learning community during their first year, with their peers and the campus community, related to their sense of belonging to the engineering major and their institution. This study also explored the relationships between students’ experiences, sense of belonging, and outcomes such as student success as measured by cumulative content GPA and intent to persist in the major or remain at the institution. This research analyzed secondary data from a survey adapted from various living-learning community, student experience, and sense of belonging surveys, as well as utilizing institutional data such as sex, race, high school GPA, SAT scores, and GPA of engineering courses.

This study found that the experiences of students of color in the living-learning community and the sense of belonging were significantly lower than those of white students. There were no significant sex differences in student experiences, belonging, or intent to persist. The experiences related to Peer Involvement were significant predictors of a sense of belonging to the engineering major, while the experiences related to Peer and Community Involvement were significant predictors of a sense of belonging to the institution. Belonging to the major was also a significant predictor of cumulative engineering content GPA. Finally, a higher sense of belonging to the engineering major significantly increases the odds of intending to persist in the major.



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