Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)
Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Public Health in Prevention and Intervention Programming
Community and Environmental Health
Megan Smith, Ph.D.
Mike Mann, Ph.D.
Emily Gravel-Fletcher, MHS, CHES
Belonging in higher education is a growing field of research, however there is limited available literature. Institutional belonging encompasses many factors of the college campus environment such as social relationships, extra-curricular activities, academics, institutional support and how they affect a college student’s sense of belonging (Hausmann et al., 2007). The purpose of this exploratory study is to further understand institutional belonging and its relationships with mental health and academic success.
This study utilized data from the ACHA-NCHA III, Spring 2020 survey that was randomly given to undergraduate and graduate students (N=5,000) attending a Northwest regional state university. The dataset was used to assess if institutional belonging is associated with GPA and three mental health outcomes: stress, psychological well-being, and loneliness. Additionally, the dataset was used to assess if GPA is associated with the three mental health outcomes and if institutional belonging moderates this association. The dataset was analyzed using multiple methods including MANOVA, ANOVA, ANCOVA, and Multiple Regression.
Institutional belonging was significantly associated with all three mental health outcomes: stress, psychological well-being, and loneliness. Furthermore, institutional belonging was significantly associated with GPA. These two relationships remained significant after including the covariates: first-generation status and biological sex. GPA was significantly associated with psychological well-being and belonging did not significantly moderate this relationship.
Institutional belonging had a significant effect on mental health and academic success. Although institutional belonging did not have a moderating effect on the relationship between GPA and the mental health outcomes, this study still presents implications for the use of institutional belonging in early intervention programs on college campuses. Implications for future public health practices and future research are also discussed.
Cooney, William, "An Exploratory Study on Institutional Belonging and Its Effects on Mental Health Outcomes and Academic Success" (2022). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 1923.