Investigating Sense of Belonging in Chinese International Students

Madina Ahmed, Fordham University


This study investigated Chinese international students’ sense of belonging by exploring the cultural and cognitive validity of a commonly used sense of belonging instrument, namely the Hoffman et al.’s (2002) Sense of Belonging Scale. Cognitive interviewing procedures supplemented with open-ended questions were administered to 20 sophomore- and junior-level Chinese international students attending U.S. undergraduate institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cognitive interview results indicated that participants understood most of the items, although some phrases were identified to be problematic given different meanings in Chinese. The qualitative aspects of the research showed that Chinese students were more likely to define belonging as connection to a social group or community. Participants also reported feeling lower levels of belonging because of the pandemic and limited institutional support. Ultimately, these findings could help to inform campus climate policies and practices related to supporting international students. Implications for developing culturally valid instruments of belonging are also discussed.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational psychology|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Ahmed, Madina, "Investigating Sense of Belonging in Chinese International Students" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30316961.