Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Sense of Belonging in Higher Education for STEM Students in the United States and Mexico

Gustavo Morán-Soto, Aradaryn Marsh, Omar Israel González Peña*, Matthew Sheppard, José Isabel Gómez-Quiñones, Lisa C. Benson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic generated worldwide negative effects on college students’ stress levels and motivation to learn. This research focuses on the lack of development of a sense of belonging in engineering students due to online classes during the pandemic and possible differences experiencing online classes between students from different contexts and cultures. Data were collected from 88 Mexican and 139 U.S. engineering students during the Spring 2021 semester using ten survey items asking students’ perceptions of the effects of taking online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic on their sense of belonging in their major. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted, aiming to determine the effects of taking online classes on students’ sense of belonging in engineering. Findings stressed the poor sense of belonging that engineering students may have after taking online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic when they missed opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with their peers and professors due to the lack of good communication. Consequently, students had uncertainties about successful learning during the pandemic in both Mexico and the U.S. Thus, activities such as accessible office hours, study groups, and meetings with mentors and tutors should be promoted to help students recover from the lack of a sense of belonging in the engineering major generated during online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16627
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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