GROUPS 4 EDUCATION: An Intervention to Improve Social Connectedness in Academic Contexts

Bentley, Sarah (University of Queensland), Greenaway, K. H. (University of Melbourne), Haslam. A. (University of Queensland), Haslam, C. (University of Queensland)

Today’s university students face tough challenges—including rising fees, lack of career certainty, and increasing competition—all of which breed insecurity and self-doubt. One of the most pervasive experiences reported by students is a sense of not belonging in their educational environment, which is often associated with depression and anxiety. Although existing interventions target and assess belongingness indirectly via subjective experience, we present findings from a novel intervention—GROUPS 4 EDUCATION (G4E)—that targets social connectedness directly and assesses it behaviourally. G4E promotes awareness of the importance of groups, has students map their existing group memberships, and provides them with the skills to align those group memberships with their educational needs. Results from self-report and behavioural data showed that G4E causes significant uplift in social connectedness, as well as having benefits for psychological well-being and academic agency that persist for at least 3 months.

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Making Good Theory Practical Symposium