Compassion and Connection Toolbox: Building Bridges Between Instructors and Students

Streamed Session

Brief Abstract

We will focus on strategies for creating a culture of compassion and connection in your classroom. Discussions will build upon practices used in virtual modalities by incorporating strategies to adjust expectations, be fully present, practice empathy, and connect with your students using your LMS.

Extended Abstract

This interactive session will focus on the data and solutions surrounding the student mental health crisis affecting our communities. According to recent findings from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State (2022), there is a distressing lack of engagement from students in the classroom due to self-reported psychological distress, which leads to faculty compassion fatigue and a disconnect between the learner and the educator. By using the affective domain of Bloom's taxonomy as a framework and our experience as teachers and instructional consultants, we have found that instructors who are intentional about humanizing the virtual learning environment are able to create a culture of compassion that leads to stronger connections with students.

Participants will have the ability, through PlayPosit, to choose the learning pathway that is most applicable to their needs and then be guided into threaded discussions that will provoke deeper conversations on the importance of being compassionate and building a connection with students. There will also be opportunities for reflection and real-world applications that can be incorporated immediately.  

Based on the article "How to Improve and Promote Student Engagement in the Online Classroom" published in Faculty Focus (2021), we have developed strategies that can be integrated into several aspects of any learning management system and institutional services. We will also offer printable resources and actionable tools for reducing the mental load on instructors and students. These takeaways will focus on adding a personal touch to announcements, discussions, instructor biographies, and grading feedback as well as methods for finding resources at your own institution. 

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

- Discuss the importance of being compassionate and building a connection with students.

- Apply their experiences to the strategies provided throughout the session.

- Formulate a plan to increase compassion and connection in their courses.


Pellegrino, Mary Ann. “How to Improve and Promote Student Engagement in the Online Classroom: Faculty Focus.” Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning, 15 Sept. 2021,

Penn State Student Affairs Center for Collegiate Mental Health. (2022, March 22). Fall 2021: COVID-19 Impact on College Student Mental Health. Center for Collegiate Mental Health