Sense of belonging among first-year physics students in Germany: Exploring intergroup differences and correlations
More details
Hide details
Faculty of Education, Physics Education, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, GERMANY
Faculty of Science, Physics Education, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, GERMANY
Online publication date: 2023-09-09
Publication date: 2023-11-01
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2023;19(11):em2345
Within the present study, we investigated first-year physics students’ senses of belonging to physics and to their university given different backgrounds and prerequisites. Moreover, we explored whether, and to what extent, these two senses of belonging relate to characteristics that curtail students’ academic success and impact the dropout rate from physics programs. For this purpose, we conducted a voluntary, anonymous online survey at 20 universities in Germany. A total of 238 first-year physics students participated. The results of the present study not only align with those of previous research (e.g., the correlative results) but also extend the current state of research (e.g., the revealed intergroup differences) and provide starting points for future research. Conclusions are drawn from these results at the end of the paper.
Ackerman, P. L., Kanfer, R., & Beier, M. E. (2013). Trait complex, cognitive ability, and domain knowledge predictors of baccalaureate success, STEM persistence, and gender differences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 911-927.
Albrecht, A., & Nordmeier, V. (2011). Ursachen des Studienabbruchs in Physik. Eine explorative Studie [Reasons for academic drop out in physics. An exploratory study]. Die Hochschule: Journal für Wissenschaft und Bildung [The College: Journal of Science and Education], 20(2), 131-145.
Allen, K.-A., Kern, M. L., Rozek, C. S., McInerney, D. M., & Slavich, G. M. (2021). Belonging: A review of conceptual issues, an integrative framework, and directions for future research. Australian Journal of Psychology, 73(1), 87-102.
Apenburg, E. (1980). Untersuchungen zur Studienzufriedenheit in der heutigen Massenuniversität [Studies on student satisfaction in today’s mainstream university]. Peter Lang.
Atherton, T. J., Barthelemy, R. S., Deconinck, W., Falk, M. L., Garmon, S., Long, E., Plisch, M., Simmons, E. H., & Reeves, K. (2016). LGBT climate in physics: Building an inclusive community. American Physical Society.
Avraamidou, L. (2020). “I am a young immigrant woman doing physics and on top of that I am Muslim”: Identities, intersections, and negotiations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 57(3), 311-341.
Bauer, F. (1984). Datenanalyse mit SPSS [Data analysis using SPSS]. Springer.
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529.
Baumert, J., Kunter, M., & Blum, W., Klusmann, U., Krauss, S., Brunner, M., Dubberke, T., Jordan, A., Löwen, K., Neubrand, M., & Tsi, Y.M. (2009). Professionswissen von Lehrkräften, kognitiv aktivierender Mathematikunterricht und die Entwicklung von mathematischer Kompetenz (COACTIV): Dokumentation der Erhebungsinstrumente [Teachers’ professional knowledge, cognitively activating mathematics instruction, and the development of mathematical competence (COACTIV): Technical report]. Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung.
Bilimoria, D., & Stewart, A. J. (2009). “Don’t ask, don’t tell”: The academic climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender faculty in science and engineering. NWSA Journal, 21(2), 85-103.
Binder, T., Sandmann, A., Sures, B., Friege, G., Theyssen, H., & Schmiemann, P. (2019). Assessing prior knowledge types as predictors of academic achievement in the introductory phase of biology and physics study programs using logistic regression. International Journal of STEM Education, 6(1), 33.
Blaney, J. M., & Stout, J. G. (2017). Examining the relationship between introductory computing course experiences, self-efficacy, and belonging among first-generation college women. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 69-74).
Blickenstaff, J. C. (2005). Women and science careers: leaky pipeline or gender filter ? Gender and Education, 17(4), 369-386.
Bøe, M. V., & Henriksen, E. K. (2015). Expectancy-value perspectives on choice of science and technology education in late-modern-societies. In E. K. Henriksen, J. Dillon, & J. Ryder (Eds.), Understanding student participation and choice in science and technology education (pp. 17-29). Springer.
Buschhüter, D., Spoden, C., & Borowski, A. (2017). Studienerfolg im Physikstudium: Inkrementelle Validität physikalischen Fachwissens und physikalischer Kompetenz [Academic success in undergraduate physics: Incremental validity of physical subject knowledge and physical literacy]. Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften [Journal of Science Education], 23(1), 127-141.
Chen, S., Binning, K. R., Manke, K. J., Brady, S. T., McGreevy, E. M., Betancur, L., Limeri, L. B., & Kaufmann, N. (2021). Am I a science person? A strong science identity Bolsters minority students’ sense of belonging and performance in college. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 47(4), 593-606.
Chen, X. (2013). STEM attrition: College students’ paths into and out of STEM fields. National Center for Education Statistics.
Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Cooper, R. (2009). Constructing belonging in a diverse campus community. Journal of College and Character, 10(3), 5.
Curtin, N., Stewart, A. J., & Ostrove, J. M. (2013). Fostering academic self-concept: Advisor support and sense of belonging among international and domestic graduate students. American Educational Research Journal, 50(1), 108-137.
Danielsson, A. T. (2009). Doing physics–Doing gender: An exploration of physics students’ identity constitution in the context of laboratory work. Uppsala University Publications.
Danielsson, A. T. (2013). Science for whom? Case studies of two male primary school student teachers’ constructions of themselves as teachers of science. Nordic Studies in Science Education, 9(2), 145-155.
Düchs, G., & Mecke, K. (2022). Ein Fokus auf dem Lehramt. Statistiken zum Physikstudium an den Universitäten in Deutschland 2022 [A focus on the teacher training programs. Statistics on physics education at universities in Germany 2022]. Physik Journal [Physics Journal], 21(8/9), 74-79.
Elsholz, M. (2019). Das akademische Selbstkonzept angehender Physiklehrkräfte als Teil ihrer professionellen Identität [The academic self-concept of pre-service physics teachers as part of their professional identity]. Logos.
Feser, M. S. (2020). Sense of belonging to science—Entwicklung eines Erhebungsinstruments für Lehramtsstudierende [Development of an instrument measuring pre-service teachers’ sense of belonging to natural science]. Progress in Science Education, 3(2), 10-21.;pris....
Feser, M. S. (2021). Students’ and student teachers’ sense of belonging to science: What do we know so far? Journal of Baltic Science Education, 20(3), 340-343.
Feser, M. S., & Haak, I. (2023). Key features of teacher identity: A systematic meta-review study with special focus on teachers of science or science-related subjects. Studies in Science Education, 59(2), 287-320.
Feser, M. S., & Plotz, T. (2023). Exploring the validity of a single-item instrument for assessing pre-service primary school teachers’ sense of belonging to science. Open Education Studies, 5, article 20220191.
Feser, M. S., & Michalik, K. (2023a). Längsschnittliche Evaluation des natur- und gesellschaftswissenschaftlichen Sachunterrichtsstudiums der Universität Hamburg: Dokumentation der deskriptiven Ergebnisse und der Erhebungsinstrumente [Longitudinal evaluation of the university-based teacher education program “Sachunterricht” at the Universität Hamburg. Technical report]. BoD – Books on Demand.
Feser, M. S., & Michalik, K. (2023b). Pre-service primary school teachers’ interdisciplinary competence and their interest, self-concept, and sense of belonging regarding natural and social sciences: Findings from a longitudinal study in Germany. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 15(5), 383-398.
Feser, M. S., Haak, I., & Rabe, T. (2022). Zugehörigkeitsgefühl Physikstudierender in der Studieneingangsphase [First-year physic students’ sense of belonging]. In S. Habig & H. van Vorst (Eds.), Unsicherheit als Element von naturwissenschaftsbezogenen Bildungsprozessen [Uncertainty as an element of science education]. Gesellschaft für Didaktik der Chemie und Physik, Virtuelle Jahrestagung 2021 (pp. 140-143). Universität Duisburg-Essen.
Feser, M. S., Haak, I., & Rabe, T. (2023). VeSP-Be – Vergleich von Studieneingangsphasen in Physik hinsichtlich des Sense of Belonging von Studierenden. Dokumentation der Erhebungsinstrumente und deren deskriptive, quantitative Ergebnisse [Comparison of study entry phases in physics regarding students' Sense of Belonging (VeSP-Be): Technical report and descriptive quantitative results]. peDOCS.
Field, A. P. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS. SAGE.
Findley-Van Nostrand, D., & Pollenz, R. S. (2017). Evaluating psychosocial mechanisms underlying STEM persistence in undergraduates: Evidence of impact from a six-day pre-college engagement STEM academy program. CBE–Life Sciences Education, 16(2), ar36.
Fischer, M. J. (2007). Settling into campus life: Differences by race/ethnicity in college involvement and outcomes. The Journal of Higher Education, 78(2), 125-156.
Freeman, T. M., Anderman, L. H., & Jensen, J. M. (2007). Sense of belonging in college freshmen at the classroom and campus levels. Journal of Experimental Education, 75(3), 203-220.
Frey A., Taskinen, P., Schütte, K., Prenzel, M., Artel, C. Baumert, J., Blum, W., Hammann, M., Klieme, E., & Perkun, R. (Eds.) (2009). PISA 2006. Skalenhandbuch. Dokumentation der Erhebungsinstrumente [PISA 2006. Technical report]. Waxmann.
Gillen-O’Neel, C. (2021). Sense of belonging and student engagement: A daily study of first- and continuing-generation college students. Research in Higher Education, 62(1), 45-71.
Good, C., Rattan, A., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Why do women opt out? Sense of belonging and women’s representation in mathematics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(4), 700-717.
Götschel, H. (2017). Drehmomente fallender Pinguine. Queer-dekonstruktive Perspektiven in der Physik [Torques of falling penguins. Queer-deconstructive perspectives in physics]. In N. Balzter, F. C. Klenk, & O. Zitzelsberger (Eds.), Queering MINT (pp. 129-151). Verlag Barbara Budrich.
Hansen, M. J., Palakal, M. J., & White, L. (2023). The importance of STEM sense of belonging and academic hope in enhancing persistence for low-income, underrepresented STEM students. Journal for STEM Education Research.
Hartung, F.-M., & Renner, B. (2014). The need to belong and the relationship between loneliness and health. Zeitschrift Für Gesundheitspsychologie [Journal of Health Psychology], 22(4), 194-201.
Hausmann, L. R. M., Schofield, J. W., & Woods, R. L. (2007). Sense of belonging as a predictor of intentions to persist among African American and white first-year college students. Research in Higher Education, 48(7), 803-839.
Hazari, Z., Chari, D., Potvin, G., & Brewe, E. (2020). The context dependence of physics identity: Examining the role of performance/competence, recognition, interest, and sense of belonging for lower and upper female physics undergraduates. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 57(10), 1583-1607.
Hazari, Z., Sonnert, G., Sadler, P. M., & Shanahan, M.-C. (2010). Connecting high school physics experiences, outcome expectations, physics identity, and physics career choice: A gender study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(8), 978-1003.
Henriksen, E. K. (2015). Introduction: Participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education: Presenting the challenge and introducing project IRIS. In E. K. Henriksen, J. Dillon, & J. Ryder (Eds.), Understanding student participation and choice in science and technology education (pp. 1-14). Springer.
Hüther, O., & Krücken, G. (2018). Higher education in Germany–Recent developments in an international perspective. Springer.
Ivanjek, L., Klein, P., Geyer, M.-A., Küchemann, S., Jeličić, K., Dahlkemper, M. N., & Susac, A. (2022). Studying physics during the COVID-19 pandemic: Student perceptions on synchronous and asynchronous course formats and implications for the future. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 18(2), 020149.
Janke, S., Messerer, L. A. S., Merkle, B., & Rudert, S. C. (2023). Why do minority students feel they don’t fit in? Migration background and parental education differentially predict social ostracism and belongingness. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations.
Johansson, A., & Larsson, J. (2022). Identity perspectives in research on university physics education: What is the problem represented to be? In H. T. Holmegaard, & L. Archer (Eds.), Science identities, contributions from science education research 12 (pp. 163-184). Springer.
Kalender, Z. Y., Marshman, E., Schunn, C. D., Nokes-Malach, T. J., & Singh, C. (2019). Gendered patterns in the construction of physics identity from motivational factors. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 15(2), 020119.
Klingsieck, K. B. & Marker, R. (2019). Zweifel am Studium. Konzeptuelle Überlegungen und eine erste empirische Annäherung [Doubts about studying. Conceptual considerations and a first empirical approach]. Die Hochschullehre [The University Teaching], 5, 825-838.
Kuchynka, S., Findley-Van Nostrand, D., & Pollenz, R. S. (2019). Evaluating psychosocial mechanisms underlying STEM persistence in undergraduates: Scalability and longitudinal analysis of three cohorts from a six-day pre-college engagement STEM academy program. CBE–Life Sciences Education, 18(3), 41.
Lahdenperä, J., & Nieminen, J. H. (2020). How does a mathematician fit in? A mixed-methods analysis of university students’ sense of belonging in mathematics. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, 6(3), 475-494.
Larson, L. M., Pesch, K. M., Surapaneni, S., Bonitz, V. S., Wu, T. F., & Werbel, J. D. (2015). Predicting graduation: The role of mathematics/science self-efficacy. Journal of Career Assessment, 23(3), 399-409.
Leonhart, R. (2022). Lehrbuch statistik [Textbook on statistics]. Hogrefe.
Lewis, K. L., Stout, J. G., Finkelstein, N. D., Pollock, S. J., Miyake, A., Cohen, G. L., & Ito, T. A. (2017). Fitting in to move forward: Belonging gender, and persistence in the physical sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (pSTEM). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 41(4), 420-436.
Lewis, K. L., Stout, J. G., Pollock, S. J., Finkelstein, N. D., & Ito, T. A. (2016). Fitting in or opting out: A review of key social-psychological factors influencing a sense of belonging for women in physics. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(2), 020110.
Locks, A. M., Hurtado, S., Bowman, N. A., & Oseguera, L. (2008). Extending notions of campus climate and diversity to students’ transition to college. The Review of Higher Education, 31(3), 257-285.
Lounsbury, J. W., Loveland, J. M., & Gibson, L. W. (2003). An investigation of psychological sense of community in relation to big five personality traits. Journal of Community Psychology, 31(5), 531-541.
Ness, D., & Lin, C.-L. (2013). International education. An encyclopedia of contemporary issues and systems. Routledge.
Nieswandt, M., Barrett, S. E., & McEneaney, E. H. (2013). Predictors of science subject discipline identities: A statistical analysis. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 13(1), 90-110.
Nunn, L. M. (2021). College belonging. How first-year and first-generation students navigate campus life. Rutgers University Press.
Pákozdy, C., Askew, J., Dyer, J., Gately, P., Martin, L., Mavor, K. I., & Brown, G. R. (2023). The imposter phenomenon and its relationship with self-efficacy, perfectionism and happiness in university students. Current Psychology.
Pendergast, D., Ronksley-Pavia, M., & Dewhurst, Y. (2020). A systematic quantitative literature review of pre-service teachers’ sense of belonging during school-based experience. International Journal of Home Economics, 13(2), 59-79.
Pittman, L. D., & Richmond, A. (2007). Academic and psychological functioning in late adolescence: The importance of school belonging. Journal of Experimental Education, 75(4), 270-290.
Plichta, S. B., & Kelvin, E. A. (2012). Munro’s statistical methods for health care research. Wolters Kluwer.
Rainey, K., Dancy, M., Mickelson, R., Stearns, E., & Moller, S. (2018). Race and gender differences in how sense of belonging influences decisions to major in STEM. International Journal of STEM Education, 5, 10.
Rodriguez, S. L., & Blaney, J. M. (2021). “We’re the unicorns in STEM”: Understanding how academic and social experiences influence sense of belonging for Latina undergraduate students. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 14(3), 441-455.
Shnabel, N., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Cook, J. E., Garcia, J., & Cohen, G. L. (2013). Demystifying values-affirmation interventions: Writing about social belonging is a key to buffering against identity threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(5), 663-676.
Slaten, C. D., Ferguson, J. K., Allen, K. A., Brodrick, D. V., & Waters, L. (2016). School belonging: A review of the history, current trends, and future directions. Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 33(1), 1-15.
Stebleton, M. J., Soria, K. M., & Huesman, R. L. (2014). First-generation students’ sense of belonging, mental health, and use of counseling services at public research universities. Journal of College Counseling, 17(1), 6-20.
Strayhorn, T. L. (2016). Student development theory in higher education: A social psychological approach. Routledge.
Strayhorn, T. L. (2019). College students’ sense of belonging. A key to educational success for all students. Routledge.
Strayhorn, T. L. (2021). Analyzing the short-term impact of a brief web-based intervention on first-year students’ sense of belonging at an HBCU: A quasi-experimental study. Innovative Higher Education, 48, 1-13.
Suhlmann, M., Sassenberg, K., Nagengast, B., & Trautwein, U. (2018). Belonging mediates effects of student-university fit on well-being, motivation, and dropout intention. Social Psychology, 49(1), 16-28.
Trapmann, S. (2008). Mehrdimensionale Studienerfolgsprognose: Die Bedeutung kognitiver, temperamentsbedingter und motivationaler Prädiktoren für verschiedene Kriterien des Studienerfolgs [Multidimensional study success prediction: the importance of cognitive, temperamental, and motivational predictors for different criteria of study success]. Logos.
Trujillo, G., & Tanner, K. D. (2014). Considering the role of affect in learning: Monitoring students’ self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and science identity. CBE Life Sciences Education, 13(1), 6-15.
Ulriksen, L., Madsen, L. M., & Holmegaard, H. T. (2010). What do we know about explanations for drop out/opt out among young people from STM higher education programs ? Studies in Science Education, 46(2), 209-244.
Ulriksen, L., Madsen, L. M., & Holmegaard, H. T. (2015). The first year experience: Students’ encounter with science and engineering. In E. K. Henriksen, J. Dillon, & J. Ryder (Eds.), Understanding student participation and choice in science and technology education (pp. 241-257). Springer.
Victor, A., Elsäßer, A., Hommel, Gerhard, & Blettner, M. (2010). Judging a plethora of p-values. Deutsches Ärzteblatt [German Medical Journal], 107(4), 50-56.
Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students. Science, 331(6023), 1447-1451.
Watteler, O., & Ebel, T. (2019). Datenschutz im Forschungsdatenmagement [Data protection in data management for research]. In U. Jensen, S. Netscher, & K. Weller (Eds.), Forschungsdatenmanagement sozialwissenschaftlicher Umfragedaten: Grundlagen und praktische Lösungen für den Umgang mit quantitativen Forschungsdaten [Data management in social science surveys: Principles and practical solutions for handling quantitative research data]. Verlag Barbara Budrich.
Westermann, R., Heise, E. & Spies, K. (2018). FB-SZ-K. Kurzfragebogen zur Erfassung der Studienzufriedenheit [Study satisfaction questionnaire–Short form]. In Leibniz Institute for Psychology (ZPID) (Eds.), Open test archive. ZPID.
Westermann, R., Heise, E., Spies, K., & Trautwein, U. (1996). Identifikation und Erfassung von Komponenten der Studienzufriedenheit [Identification and assessment of components of students’ satisfaction with their studies]. Psychologie in Erziehung und Unterricht [Psychology in Education and Teaching], 43(1), 1-22.
Westfall, P., & Henning, K. S. S. (2013). Understanding advanced statistical methods. CRC Press.
Wilson, D., Jones, D., Bocell, F., Crawford, J., Kim, M. J., Veilleux, N., Floyd-Smith, T., Bates, R., & Plett, M. (2015). Belonging and academic engagement among undergraduate STEM students: A multi-institutional study. Research in Higher Education, 56, 750-776.
Wolf, K., Maurer, C., & Kunter, M. (2021). “I don’t really belong here”: Examining sense of belonging in immigrant and nonimmigrant teacher students. Zeitschrift Für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie [Journal of Developmental Psychology and Educational Psychology], 53(1-2), 1-14.
Zaniewski, A. M., & Reinholz, D. (2016). Increasing STEM success: A near-peer mentoring program in the physical sciences. International Journal of STEM Education, 3, 14.
Zumbrunn, S., McKim, C., Buhs, E., & Hawley, L. R. (2014). Support, belonging, motivation, and engagement in the college classroom: A mixed method study. Instructional Science, 42, 661-684.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top