What impacts students’ feelings of connectedness with instructors?

Abstract/Description: "This presentation describes a study which was developed to identify doctoral students’ perceptions regarding feelings of connectedness with faculty (i.e., factors contributing to students’ feelings of both connectedness and isolation), to develop strategies to grow and maintain students’ feelings of connectedness with faculty. The goal was to make doctoral programs a positive and effective learning experience for students and to eventually expand the study’s findings to all student levels. The study utilized the social presence model as a framework due to the social interactiveness inherent in connectedness; the model integrates five elements to support the sense of connection between individuals within online learning environments. The study employed a mixed methods approach using a survey and interview questions developed based upon the social presence model. Survey results suggested the presence of themes in students’ perceptions of the factors supporting and hindering feelings of connectedness with faculty; follow-up interviews were conducted to delve deeper into the essence of students’ perceptions. Interview transcripts were reviewed and triangulated with the survey data to capture a broader perspective and glean a richer understanding of the data. The results of the survey and examination of interview data supported current findings in the literature that students desire a stronger sense of connectedness with faculty; the study’s findings also underscored the critical role that technology can play in supporting development of the sense of connectedness between students and faculty. Implications of this study include the need for instructors to become more engaged in the online learning environment and to explore creative ways, often through use of various technologies, to increase their social presence, to better support their students.
Subject(s): Graduate Research
online learning
social presence model
Date Issued: 2021