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Belonging and Engaging for Successful Transition to University

Sense of belonging and engagement with their learning community are crucial for students’ retention and success, and with a significant proportion of teaching still delivered remotely this is one the biggest challenges we face in supporting our students. This longitudinal investigation into the factors that impact on students from all backgrounds entering and succeeding in university has been supported by the Laidlaw Foundation, the Nuffield Foundation through the QSTEP programme and through a LITE fellowship.


  • Alison Voice, Nic Labrosse and Helen Heath ‘Maintaining a Sense of Belonging Amidst all the Disruption’ AdvanceHE Teaching And Learning Conference 2022
  • Jess Davison and Alison Voice ‘What can we learn about student belonging from lockdown data?’ Student Success Conference, University of Leeds, November 2022.
  • Isabelle Rocher, Rob Purdy and Alison Voice “Belonging: principal component analysis” Laidlaw Scholar 2022
  • Alison Voice, Rob Purdy and Tom Summers “Building a Learning Community“ EUROSoTL 2022
  • Voice, A.M. and Purdy, R. “Belonging and Engaging for Successful Transition to University” Students Education Conference, University of Leeds (2022)
  • Jack Woodhead “Sense of Belonging, engagement and academic success in students’ first year of university” MPhys Project Report, University of Leeds (2021)
  • Voice, A.M., Labrosse, N., Mason, V., Heath, H.F. and Daly, S.E., “Belonging and Engaging: Factors for Success” VICEPHEC (2020)


Two-Stage Problem Solving

This is a project we are undertaking with an international collaborator, Dr Cynthia Heiner, to understand how the structure of a learning session can enable students to be more confident to contribute and learn from peers. The two stages are: (1) Students work alone, to gather their thoughts and ideas, and try solving the problem, (2) Students share their ideas within a small group of peers, to produce a combined solution. This method is being evaluated for its impact on confidence and efficiency in problem solving. The following references give more details and background about this approach.

  • Georg W. Rieger and Cynthia E. Heiner, Examinations That Support Collaborative Learning: The Students’ Perspective, Journal of College Science Teaching 43(4) 2014 41-47
  • Carl E. Wieman, Georg W. Rieger, and Cynthia E. Heiner, Physics Exams that Promote Collaborative Learning, The Physics Teacher 52, 2014, 51-53
  • Alison Voice  ‘Practical Approaches to Introducing Active Learning’. Chapter 3 in ‘Effective Teaching in Large Classes’. Ed. Anna Wood, IOP Publishing, 2023.


Imposter Phenomenon among Physics Undergraduates

Imposter phenomenon is when a high achieving person does not think they are ‘good enough’, despite evidence to suggest otherwise; they cannot see their own attributes and externalise any success. As such they live in fear of being ‘found out’, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

Researching in partnership with our UGs we have research projects investigating the prevalence of imposter phenomenon among Physics undergraduate students, and ways we can help minimise this. One project is trying to establish whether imposter phenomenon is more prevalent among undergraduate students from non-tradition entry routes (such as foundation years) and the second is investigating if introversion leads to a higher incidence of imposter phenomenon. Initial data shows that there is, in fact, a relatively high rate of imposter phenomenon among Physics Undergraduates in general. Watch this space!


  • Cochrane, E.C.A., Radcliffe, J. and Roach-Thompson, T.B. Imposter Phenomenon among Physics Undergraduates, in preparation (2022).