Promoting a Sense of Belonging in Online Learning Communities of Inquiry

Susi Peacock, John Cowan


A sense of belonging (SoB) is a valued concept in campus-based learning, being firmly linked with improved student attainment, increased learners’ satisfaction and reduced attrition rates. Some researchers even assert that learners are unable to fulfil the goals of higher education without acquiring a SoB.  This article recognises that SoB can help promote and consolidate learning and seeks to specify how tutors may nurture online learners’ SoB. An adapted version of the Community Inquiry Framework (CoIF) is used to frame specific suggestions for action. This revision of the well-known Framework focuses upon the overlapping intersections of the three Presences, entitled Influences: ‘Trusting’, ‘Meaning-making’ and ‘Deepening understanding’. For each Influence, guidance illustrated by examples is offered, leading to particular suggestions that concentrate upon the promotion of a sense of belonging as an important aspect of the online tutor’s facilitative activities.


Sense of belonging; online learning; Community of Inquiry Framework; Influences.

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