Unpacking Sense of Belonging: Can we really build authentic relationships for students learning online?
Concurrent Session 5
Sense of belonging is critical to student success, but for students learning online, belonging can be an elusive goal. Join us for a panel discussion as we unpack the mystery of belonging - why it matters, where and when to foster it, and how it can really be measured.
People have a fundamental need to belong. This sense of belonging tells us we have a secure and valued place within our group. It is a core condition required for an individual to feel safe, confident, and able to contribute. It’s not surprising that a strong sense of belonging is a key factor in a student’s ability to succeed in school. When students feel valued, accepted, and respected by their classmates and educators, they become free to engage authentically with the materials and individuals around them.
Many of the interactions that foster belonging come from the spontaneous, organic interactions students have with peers, faculty, and staff each day. Casual conversations at the library, in the hallway, or after class reinforce authentic connections for students. However, when students are learning online, they frequently miss out on these opportunities. Virtual learning creates a sense of isolation that can push students in the opposite direction - reinforcing feelings of inadequacy, apathy and uncertainty.
But all is not lost! There are many simple actions institutions and faculty can take that are proven to help online students build connections and increase their sense of belonging and peer connectedness.
Join us to hear for a conversation with four leading experts and practitioners in the field of student belonging and student success as we discuss the research behind belonging, why it really matters, how students are expressing their need for connection, practical solutions to increase belonging among online learners, and how small changes can lead to significant improvements in students success and persistence.
Audience members will reflect on their personal experiences with belonging and engagement, and will be encouraged to respond to the same questions posed to panelists throughout the session.
Key takeaways for attendees at this session include:
- Understanding of the science behind belonging and why it matters for student success
- Actionable steps that can be taken to foster belonging among online and non-traditional learners
- A blueprint for researching and measuring belonging at your institution