Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Nyunt, Gudrun

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


While community college is often seen as an avenue that provides access to higher education to a greater part of the population, community colleges have struggled with improving retention, persistence, and degree completion. Research highlights the importance of helping students develop a sense of belonging at the institution, which has been found to improve retention, persistence, and degree completion. One avenue to do so may be through requiring students to enroll in a First Year Seminar course. This qualitative case study explored the way in which a First Year Seminar course may influence students’ sense of belonging at a community college. Using multiple methods of data collection including an anonymous post course reflection survey, participant observations, document analysis of course assignments, and interviews, this study found that the First Year Seminar contributed to a students’ sense of belonging in a variety of ways: (a) the First Year Seminar instructor created an atmosphere where students felt comfortable and were not afraid to ask questions; (b) the First Year Seminar ensured that students connected with their advisors, which was important to making them feel supported on campus; c) activities which focused on introducing resources allowed students to get to know campus better; (d) students were able to explore their strengths, which helped them feel more confident in their ability to succeed in college; and (e) students were able to connect with peers in the First Year Seminar which fostered their sense of belonging at the institution. In addition, while the First Year Seminar contributed to students’ sense of belonging, students also shared the importance of other instructors and staff members being caring and supportive to fostering their sense of belonging at the community college. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.


89 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

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