Outside of Class Activities

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Creating opportunities to foster connection and belonging can be extended beyond the classroom to contribute to academic success and overall well-being of our students. For example, office hours are often underutilized by students, but when a single check-in and reflection meeting is made mandatory, students tend to improve their learning outcomes (McGrath, 2014). These findings suggest that personal recognition and engagement have an important augmentative effect above and beyond additional exposure to the material students were tasked with learning—statistics, in this case. See McGrath (2014) for a sample reflection exercise to conduct with students during office hours. In addition to office hours, consider encouraging activities outside of class to build connections between students and faculty, and to help students develop a relationship with the community or university resources (e.g., museums, libraries). These relationships can help cultivate feelings of belonging to help students succeed.

“Our department had an ice-cream social where administrators gave out ice cream to students and faculty. It gave us a chance to come together as a department and get to know one another on a personal level. Many students told us they enjoyed getting to relax and not having to think about the next exam or lab. It was just about getting to know each other.”