What is it about?

School belonging is an important construct, yet its measurement remains understudied. In this publication, we address this gap in knowledge by analyzing the measurement properties of a popular measure of sense of belonging to college. We conducted factor analyses to explore and confirm the factor structure of the measure; looked at how the measure performs with different groups of individuals, across gender and race; and tested how this measure relates to other measures of school belonging and related constructs.

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Why is it important?

This is the first published study looking at the psychometric properties of Walton and Cohen's (2007) influential and widely used measure of college belonging, the Sense of Social Fit Scale. The results of our study shed light on the various components of college belonging and how they are related to one another and to other constructs (e.g., stress, life satisfaction) for various groups of students. Moreover, the results offer guidance to researchers about how to use and score this measure in their own research studies.


It was a delight to work with Dra. Nidia Ruedas-Gracia and Dr. Ge Jiang to shine a light on this important issue in Educational and Counseling Psychology! One aspect of our results that especially excites me is the emergence of cultural capital as a component of college belonging. Our results are consistent with other studies that suggest that cultural capital is a particularly salient component of college belonging for minoritized students, and that this is so because institutions of higher education undervalue these students' cultural wealth. This puts the onus on institutions to enact changes to better support student belonging.

Amir Maghsoodi
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Measuring college belongingness: Structure and measurement of the Sense of Social Fit Scale., Journal of Counseling Psychology, April 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/cou0000668.
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