July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education
With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, most universities made an abrupt shift to offering classes online. Before that shift, many faculty lacked online teaching training and experience, and “97 percent of institutions moving classes online had to call on faculty with no previous online teaching experience” . Prior to COVID-19, only 60% of university chief online officers said faculty were required to have some formal training prior to teaching online . Retention rates in online education are lower than in face-to-face classrooms , , but faculty can learn how to create a sense of belonging in online classrooms. A student’s sense of belonging is key to their collegiate success, including academic achievement and persistence. Belonging is felt with peers, in classrooms, and in the college environment; however, it differs based on an individual’s social identities and their intersections, such as race, ethnicity, and gender identities. For example, Latinx students in particular who feel validated, supported, and valued are more likely to feel like they fit in . Students of color in STEM fields may have a particularly difficult time fitting in because they are “one of very few” . We provide a review of the literature on sense of belonging in undergraduate education to better understand the relevance of creating a sense of belonging for students’ academic achievement and persistence. We will offer implications for faculty seeking to promote more culturally responsive teaching and assessment practices in online undergraduate engineering classes by creating a sense of belonging.
Strayhorn found that “sense of belonging in STEM was significantly (and statistically) related to students’ self-esteem and the frequency of their interactions with peers” . Faculty members convey care for students in many ways that help develop their sense of belonging, such as learning and remembering students’ names, taking note of students’ career goals, and emphasizing the value students add to class discussions . Two ways to create a sense of belonging for students in an online course are by creating community through online discussion board posts and peer review of written assignments. Using guided prompts, faculty can model welcome introductions at the building of class, use discussion boards to allow students to get to know each other and build trust, and then include guiding questions to facilitate peer review of each other’s papers before assignment submissions .
Undergraduate engineering faculty were particularly impacted by the abrupt shift to online education. Large class sizes, strict pre-requisite requirements, and heavy technical content may prove challenging for some faculty to shift to an online modality. In order for students to have an optimum learning experience in an online environment, especially students with marginalized social identities, faculty must pay special attention to creating a sense of belonging. Therefore, we contend this literature review will be a tool for engineering faculty as online education becomes a more standard feature of the curriculum, during the pandemic and beyond.
Lyles, C. H., & McNair, L. D., & Reeping, D. (2021, July), Sense of Belonging in Large Online Engineering Classes: A Scoping Review Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37708
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