Diverse group of smiling high school students sitting in front of a row of computers.

Portico Student Experience Survey: Measuring Belonging, Connection, Engagement

When students feel that they belong…they feel confident that they are seen as a human being, a person of value.

– Floyd Cobb & John Krownapple


  • Conduct a schoolwide student experience survey
    • NOTE: The provided Google Form and Google Doc resources are the same Portico Student Survey; we are providing different formats to best suit your needs.
  • Provide necessary supports, so all students can participate equitably
    • Some possibilities: dual language/translation for ELL students, technology supports, visual aids, definitions, ample classroom/school time for anxiety-free completion, etc.



  • Students who feel a sense of belonging feel respected, accepted, and supported by teachers and peers.


  • Students who are connected believe adults and peers in the school care about their learning as well as them as individuals.


  • Students who are engaged clearly demonstrate levels of interest, enthusiasm, and involvement they have for their learning.


  • The ability to know one’s own strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a growth mindset.


  • The capacity to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation and agency to accomplish personal and collective goals.


  • Based on student responses to questions about (1) how often they have felt happy, optimistic, and hopeful; and (2) how often they have felt lonely, afraid, and worried over the past week.


  • Does your school/district share an understanding of what you mean by belonging, connection, and engagement?
  • Who is responsible for belonging, connection, and engagement?
  • What is the relationship between belonging, connection, and engagement and a positive culture and climate at your site?
  • Which of the three was most impacted by the pandemic? What have you done intentionally to address it?


  • Inform intentional classroom and school-level action by elevating student voice in terms of needs (SEL and Well-Being) and experience
  • Root cause analysis (with a twist)
  • Identify what works for students so you can replicate the necessary conditions


  • Dive deeper into the results through empathy interviews
  • Use the survey results to inform intentional classroom and school level action by elevating student voice in terms of needs and experience


See this Toolkit post for details, steps, resources.

  • Student-Centered/Human-Centered Design
  • Intentional Conversation
  • Focused on Positive Student Experience
  • Intended to Set the Right Conditions
  • Individual or Small Group
  • See – Do – Experience – Feel


  1. PIN Analysis (Positive, Interesting, Needs Attention)
  2. Identify students to interview
  3. Engage in Empathy Interviews
  4. Look for trends to identify root cause and potential actions
  5. Identify Little Things, Key Moves, and/or Big Plays
    • Little Things are smaller efforts you can do tomorrow, or within the next week or so.
    • Key Moves are efforts that require a bit of planning, but can be implemented within the next 3-6 months.
    • Big Plays are more substantial efforts that take 6-18 months to fully accomplish.
  6. Build and implement an action plan

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