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  • Thomas Newpher

Dr. Newpher presents at the Wake Forest University Neuroscience Teaching Conference

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

Students who feel strongly connected to their campus community have higher retention rates and, for disadvantaged student populations, this sense of belonging can also increase academic performance. The major factors contributing to a strong sense of belonging are thought to include 1) establishing functionally supportive peer relationships and 2) the belief that faculty are supportive and recognize students as individuals. During the 2020 pandemic, students experienced a sudden shift from in-person classes to remote synchronous and asynchronous course formats. We released surveys to students in the fall of 2019 (pre-pandemic) and fall of 2020 (pandemic), to collect data on student perceptions of belonging and measures of classroom dynamics. Student responses collected from a number of STEM courses at Duke revealed a significant decrease in sense of belonging for remote learning (2020) when compared to in-person instruction (2019). Furthermore, decreases in student belonging with remote learning were most dramatic for first, second, and third year students. We also found that for remote courses, student report of belonging was positively correlated with perception of instructor support. Taken together, our results highlight the important role that instructional faculty can play in promoting student belonging in remote learning course formats.

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