Belonging in Partnership: staff and students working in partnership to create belonging in informal learning environments

Mrs Heather Aguilar1, Miss Courtney  Ngata-Turley1, Miss  Laura  O’Sullivan1

1Massey University , Palmerston North , New Zealand


The College of Humanities and Social Sciences sponsored a three year student engagement project (BASE+) in 2016. This aligned with the redesign of our BA degree in that same year. One of the key goals of the BASE+ project was to build on the concept of Tūrangawaewae and provide students with a place to stand, to belong and to feel supported in their study. Therefore, the BASE+ Common Room was established on Manawatu and Albany campuses and online. Through this informal learning environment we hoped to establish a sense of community among BA students, which would enhance the student experience and contribute positively towards graduate outcomes.

In this soundbite, we consider how partnerships with students were essential to developing a sense of belonging in the BASE+ Common Room on the Manawatu Campus, and how this belonging enhanced the student experience. This experience is then contrasted with what happened when the partnership was not maintained as effectively, something we observed on our Albany campus, and online. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the delicate nature of partnerships with students and how the care we put into our partnerships contributes toward quality graduate outcomes.


Heather is the Student Engagement Coordinator for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University. She has over 14 years experience in student service provision from a range of areas. She currently provides operational oversight for the Bachelor of Arts Student Engagement project at Massey University.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education. We are focused on: The quality of the student experience Supporting and empowering students to achieve their educational and life goals Enhancing student wellbeing and development Improving student success and persistence Providing outreach to students at-risk Raising institutional student retention rates For more information, please visit the ANZSSA website at

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